Venezuela opposition moves to recall president

By Maria Paz Salas

SANTIAGO, Chile (AA) – The Venezuelan opposition collected 1.1 million signatures in two days to advance a process which could lead to a recall vote against President Nicolas Maduro.

Opposition coalition parties in the Democratic Unity Table (MUD) will on Monday deliver the signatures to the National Electoral Council (CNE).

The CNE last week authorized the collection of one percent of registered voters within 30 days to begin the process of a referendum.

The elections commission will have five days to verify the signatures, after which the opposition will have three days to collect 20 percent of the signatures on voter rolls.

If MUD succeeds with the process, a “citizen group” will be formed to request the referendum. The CNE could then set a date for a recall vote.

To revoke Maduro, opponents need more than 7. 5 million votes – the figure he received in an election following the death of the late president Hugo Chavez in 2013.

Maduro’s government is dealing with severe economic and social crises, highlighted this week by mandatory rolling blackouts.

The power cuts aimed at saving energy have caused social unrest in some big cities including Maracaibo in the north-west.

Maduro this week also announced a two-day week for public sector employees and said museums and schools would be closed on Fridays.

The measures are proving to be unpopular among Venezuelans.

According to a recent poll, support for Maduro stands at 25 percent but seven-out-of-10 Venezuelans want his government replaced.