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Venezuela electoral council obstructionist and biased, says OAS secretary general
Published on September 24, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro

WASHINGTON, USA -- The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, said on Friday that Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE, for its initials in Spanish) is “obstructing a constitutional right and acting with a clear political bias” in announcing the rules and the timetable that will govern the process for the recall referendum sought by the opposition, and demanded that the referendum be held in 2016.

“The recall referendum belongs to the people, and it is up to the CNE to ensure the guarantees for the free expression of the people, instead of curtailing and trying to annul their rights,” the secretary general stressed.

Almagro said the dates announced by the CNE are “one more maneuver to delay the process and to impede the holding of the recall referendum this year. Constitutional deadlines cannot continue to be violated, the will of the voters cannot continue to be manipulated, it is completely unacceptable that there are attempts to cut civil and political rights through biased interpretations by the CNE.”

For the OAS leader, moreover, the CNE “arbitrarily and with demonstrated intention changed the rules of the game” by determining that the collection of 20 percent of the signatures needed to convene the referendum must be done at the state level, rather than at the national level.

"Electoral bodies do not exist to undermine democracy and act in the interests of the current government; their nature and obligation is to serve as vehicles for the strengthening of the will of the people,” he said.

In effect, during the recall referendum against the former President Hugo Chávez in 2004, under the same law, the collection of 20 percent of the signatures was carried out at the national level, which makes complete sense, given that the office in question is the president of the republic, a national office.

“The president of the CNE Tibisay Lucena and its rectors Sandra Oblitas, Socorro Elizabeth Hernández and Tania D´Amelio are showing a high level of undue technical incompetence regarding the responsibilities they must meet. Their role is to ensure that 100 percent of the Venezuelan electoral registry is able to sign, if they desire to do so, not to certify the elimination of the rights of the people,” Almagro added.

“It is urgent that the required number of machines in all districts are present in order to meet the needs of the more than 19 million Venezuelan voters and carry out a fair and proper distribution of districts that does not blatantly favor the position of the government. This decision is unconstitutional, violates the very spirit of the recall referendum and aims to sweep away the last glimmer of democratic hope for Venezuela,” he explained.

The General Secretariat of the OAS reiterated the urgent call for respect for democratic institutions and rights, while recalling once more what is established in Article 1 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

“The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it. The right is that of the peoples and the obligation to ensure that right is that of the government," Almagro said.
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Louis Robinson:

This is what causes me to question the credibility of institutions like the OAS. How much credibility does the Secretary expect the public to give to these utterings on Venezuela's electoral commission, when Officers from this same OAS, have made recommendations regarding electoral reform in Dominica, returns years later after a general election, none of their recommendations have been implemented, but declares, hours after the election, that the election was free and fair; but comes now to chastise the Venezuelan commission. I concede that they do need to be chastised, but be consistent, in addressing these institutions under your jurisdiction, especially in regards to the functioning of the entire electoral process. It is not good for the image of the institution to be so blatantly selective.


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