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Venezuela Awaits Result of Presidential Recall Vote Audit - 2004-08-21

Venezuelan election officials say they expect to announce Saturday, results of a partial audit of last Sunday's presidential recall referendum.

The director of the National Electoral Council, Jorge Rodriguez, told reporters late Friday that a vote recount has been completed in 58 percent of 150 randomly selected polling stations, with international observers monitoring the process.

Government radio in Caracas quotes the election official as saying preliminary results are "very, very conclusive," showing no irregularities.

Observers from the Organization of American States and the Carter Center in the United States requested the audit, saying it could raise public confidence in the government's declaration that the move to recall President Hugo Chavez failed by a wide margin -- 58 percent to 42 percent.

Venezuela's opposition refused to participate in the audit, on the grounds it would not answer complaints that voting machines were programmed to limit the number of votes cast in favor of recalling Mr. Chavez.