News / USA

    White House Calls for Venezuelan Vote Recount

    Acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a picture of the late President Hugo Chavez during a news conference at the election commission in Caracas, April 14, 2013.
    Acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a picture of the late President Hugo Chavez during a news conference at the election commission in Caracas, April 14, 2013.
    VOA News
    The White House says a recount in Venezuela's close election is necessary and prudent to ensure Venezuelans have confidence in the results.
     
    White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday rushing to a decision in these circumstances would be inconsistent with the expectations of Venezuelans for a clear and democratic outcome.
     
    The official vote count found a narrow victory for acting president Nicholas Maduro, the late socialist-leader Hugo Chavez's chosen successor. Maduro edged out opposition challenger Henrique Capriles with 50.7 percent of the votes, according to election board returns.
     
    Capriles has refused to accept the results, denouncing the final vote tally as illegitimate and calling for a recount.
     
    "I want to say to the government's candidate [Maduro] the loser today is you and say that firmly. You are the loser. You and your government," Capriles said. "I say that with firmness and with all the compromise and transparency. We will not recognize the results until each and every Venezuelan vote, one by one, has been counted. We demand here that the National Electoral Council open all of the boxes and that each Venezuelan vote be counted.''
     
    Maduro supporters gathered in the streets of Caracas to celebrate the election. The 50-year-old former bus driver and foreign minister told the crowd to "fight" to continue the Chavez legacy.
     
    "Long live Chavez, long live Chavez, long live Chavez,"  he said. "Until victory forever, lets go to the streets to defend this victory, to defend the triumph, in peace and in order to celebrate with the people and to remember that we have complied with the commander. Chavez I promise you, we have fulfilled your inauguration, independence and a socialist fatherland.''
     
    Cuban President Raul Castro was among the first to congratulate Maduro in a statement published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
     
    Maduro began the campaign with a double-digit lead in the polls over Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor who lost decisively to Chavez in last year's presidential election. 
     
    But Maduro's lead shrank considerably in the lead-up to Sunday's vote. Capriles accused the Maduro and Chavez government of doing little to solve Venezuela's economic problems, food shortages and soaring crime rate.
     
    Maduro has pledged to continue what he calls the Chavez revolution, which supporters say used oil wealth to lift millions out of poverty.
     
    Chavez died last month after a two-year battle with cancer.
     
    He was a staunch socialist who was first elected president in 1998. He earned the enmity of the United States and others for such policies as nationalizing major companies and courting world leaders like Cuba's Fidel Castro, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.
     
    The opposition accused him of becoming a dictator, but he was revered by many of Venezuela's poor.

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