Tensions between supporters of Venezuelan President-elect Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles have surfaced in the Venezuelan community in Australia.
Nicolás Maduro is set to be sworn-in as Venezuela’s President following elections last Sunday.
But the event is being overshadowed by the Opposition’s call for a full vote-by-vote recount, and the deaths of several people in post-election violence.
Biwa Kwan reports.
Protesters chanting: ‘recount, recount’…protesters singing Venezuelan national anthem.
From Venezuela to Australia.
The results of Venezuela’s election continue to be disputed, with calls for a full vote-by-vote recount being echoed at demonstrations in Sydney and Melbourne.
At a protest in Sydney, Carolina Velasquez says there are a number of Venezuelans-Australians who do not recognise Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate President of Venezuela.
“We want people to know that there’s a big community that is against what is going on Venezuela. We do not agree with the violent days that we’ve had in the last few days. And we don’t recognise Maduro as a president. We want 100 percent of the recount of the votes back home.”
Also at the Sydney protest, Samantha Cerna says there is a need for a full manual recount because of concerns over electoral breaches.
“This is important to us because there were several irregularities in the process – human rights violations. There were votes that were not secret. And on top of that, the margin of difference was really close. So we believe we’re entitled to a full recount to a 100 per cent of the votes.”
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council says it will electronically audit machines that were not checked immediately after Sunday’s vote.
But it rejects the opposition’s claim of irregularities.
Alfonz De Gill from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network says he believes Mr Maduro is the rightful winner of the election and no recount is necessary.
“This (Maduro) government is a democratic government and has been elected by the people. And as such the institutions decide the election has been a good one and a democratic one – it has to be respected. And we would like the Australian government to support that and congratulate Mr Maduro.”
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has called for a full manual recount.
But the Supreme Court says that’s impossible.
Opposition spokesman Carlos Oscari says a recount is needed to ease rising political tensions.
“What we’re asking for is really simple. We are asking for is for everyone, and we’re confident that more than 80 percent of Venezuelans on either side agree. We will see what happens in the process, we will have a vote-by-vote recount, let’s review it. Whatever the outcome, Venezuelans will be confident over what happened on April 14 and, of course, this eases the political crisis that exists at the moment.”
Meanwhile, President-elect Nicolas Maduro has accused accused Mr Caprilles of planning a coup.
The authorities say they have detained dozens of people and have placed under investigation a group of military officers suspected of plotting with the Opposition supporters.
Mr Maduro says he will be discussing the alleged coup attempt during a visit to Peru for a special session of the Union of South American Nations in Peru.
“We’re going to the presidential summit convened by Union of South American Nations to demonstrate again for the capital for action, their political capacity, when faced with the threat of violence and a coup in Venezuela. We will directly inform them of the events that our country has experienced in recent hours, in recent days, as we defeat this coup.”
Mr Capriles said in a Twitter message that he too was considering attending the Peru meeting, adding that he had been in conversation with several leaders.
Countries including Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Argentina have recognised Mr Maduro’s victory, but so far, the United States has not.
Bolivian President Evo Morales condemned the US position, saying it had no right to question Mr Maduro’s victory because George W. Bush won the presidency by a similarly narrow margin in 2004.
“President Bush won with 50.7 percent of the vote and did anyone ask for a recount of votes? He won by a minimal margin. And now the U.S. government asks for a recount in Venezuela. It’s flagrant meddling and we are not going to allow it. For this reason, all the Latin American presidents are meeting to reject this.”
Most of the leaders at the regional summit in Peru will head to Venezuela for the swearing-in ceremony after the meeting.