Both sides in Venezuela’s political stand-off will hold rival demonstrations on Tuesday after authorities rejected opposition demands for a presidential election recount and protesters clashed with police in Caracas.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles says his team’s figures show he won the election on Sunday and he wants a full audit of official results that narrowly gave victory to ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro, the country’s acting president.
The National Electoral Council has refused to hold a recount of the votes, and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Monday to disperse opposition supporters who protested in a wealthy district of Caracas.
The election was triggered by the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez last month after a two-year battle with cancer.
He named Maduro as his successor before he died and his protege narrowly won the election with 50.8 percent of the vote to Capriles’ 49.0 percent.
UPDATE: Violence over Venezuela’s disputed presidential election has killed four people, state news agency AVN said on Tuesday.
Both sides have called for their supporters to hold peaceful demonstrations nationwide on Tuesday, raising fears of more political unrest in the OPEC nation of 29 million people.
“I call for the people to fight peacefully, to mobilize in all the country … enough abuses!” Maduro told reporters on Monday, hours after formally being declared the winner. “They’re trying to violate the majority … we call on them (the opposition) to respect the people’s will.”
As well as the clashes in Caracas, which included demonstrations outside the offices of state television channel VTV and the home of the head of the election authority, opposition protests were reported in several provincial cities.
Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, hopes to highlight the weakness of Maduro’s mandate and stir up opposition anger over his charge that the electoral council is biased in favor of the ruling Socialist Party.