Venezuela says no recount as Chavez’s successor assumes presidency

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Opposition demands for a vote-by-vote recount of Venezuela’s controversial election have apparently been rejected.

The country’s electoral council said that it will audit the voting machines that were not inspected on election night.

Council President Tibisay Lucen said that it would examine the 46 per cent of the machines that were not audited immediately after Sunday’s vote.

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has presented a series of allegations of vote fraud and other irregularities to back up his demand for a vote-by-vote recount of the presidential election.

Ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro, the hand-picked successor of the late Hugo Chavez, was declared the winner by 262,000 votes out of 14.9 million cast.

Mr Capriles said he was accepting the decision because he believed the stolen votes that cost him the presidency are from the unaudited machines.

“We know where the problems are,” he said, referring to the votes cast in the 12,000 voting machines that the council revealed would be audited, starting next week and taking a month to complete.

He said he could live with the council’s ruling, which appeared to mark a turnaround for president-elect Mr Maduro, whose government had looked all week to be digging in its heels.

The government has a stranglehold on all state institutions and had waged a crackdown on protest all week. The move followed the Supreme Court chief’s announcement on Wednesday that the full recount Mr Capriles demanded was not legal.

But Mr Capriles said he will insist that every single vote receipt be counted and compared to voter registries as well as to voting machine tally sheets.

In announcing the audit, the council did not say whether it would do that. Venezuela’s electronic voting system emits receipts for every ballot boxed with the machines. No international monitors scrutinised the election.

Mr Maduro was inaugurated yesterday, and was in Lima, Peru, on Thursday night for an emergency meeting of South American leaders to discuss Venezuela.