- Title: Venezuelans incensed as courts suspend drive for Maduro recall referendum
- Date: 21st October 2016
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF SIGNATURES BEING COLLECTED TO VOTE FOR REFERENDUM AGAINST MADURO VARIOUS OF VENEZUELA'S ELECTORAL AUTHORITY BUILDING
- Embargoed: 5th November 2016 15:33
- Keywords: Venezuela recall referendum Nicolas Maduro opposition election
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00254Y8KLF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuelans were outraged on Friday (October 21) after Venezuela's electoral authority suspended the next phase of a recall referendum against unpopular President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday (October 20).
The decision also sparked outcry from the opposition who accused the Socialist government of dictatorial tactics.
The oil-rich country is mired in a brutal economic crisis that has families skipping meals amid food shortages and triple-digit inflation. Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader elected three years ago to replace late leader Hugo Chavez, has seen his popularity tumble in hand with the recession.
His foes had vowed to push for a recall referendum against him this year, which, if successful would have triggered fresh presidential elections that polls show Maduro would lose.
"It's pretty negative, because they do it to delay the change that people want. They do it to delay everything people want to change. People want to get rid of this government because we are sincerely tired of the situation, violence, insecurity and shortages," said university student, Oriana.
The election board had already said there would be no such vote this year, and appeared to put the final nail in the coffin on Thursday night.
Citing court orders, the electoral body said in a statement it was suspending next week's signature drive to collect around 4 million signatures and trigger the vote.
Earlier on Thursday, Venezuelan ruling party officials said several regional courts had voided an earlier signature drive by the opposition, due to fraud allegations.
Pensioner, Marcos Carrillo, was disgusted with the news.
"It's something unusual, they say we live in a democratic country, but this (the suspension of signatures) shows that this is a dictatorship. This man, Maduro, does not deserve to be president of Venezuela," he said.
The Democratic Unity coalition blasted the decision, adding it would outline its action plan on Friday.
The opposition needed a referendum this year because under Venezuela's constitutional rules, should Maduro lose a plebiscite next year, his vice president would take over rather than there being a new election, denying the opposition their opportunity to take power after 17 years of socialist rule.
Maduro's rivals warn that by preventing a democratic solution to the crisis, the government is stoking chances of unrest in violent Venezuela.
Earlier this week, Venezuela's election board delayed an election for state governorships to 2017 from December, giving the government more breathing room before going to the polls.
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