The United States held back recognition of President-elect Nicolas Maduro and called on the Venezuelan government on Wednesday to respect the right of free assembly after violence at opposition protests over a disputed election.
The call received an immediate reply from president-elect Maduro who said on national television that he ‘does not care’ whether the US recognizes his election victory.
The tight weekend election victory by Maduro, the chosen successor of the late socialist President Hugo Chavez, has been rejected by his rival, Henrique Capriles, who is alleging voting irregularities and calling for an audit of the ballots.
Eight Seven people have been killed in opposition-led protests.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States had not decided whether to recognize Maduro as president.
“That evaluation has to be made and I haven't made it,” Kerry told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “We think there ought to be a recount.”
“Obviously, if there are huge irregularities, we are going to have serious questions about the viability of that government,” he added.
His comments drew a stern response from Maduro, who said Wednesday in national broadcast remarks Wednesday that he “does not care” whether the United States recognizes his election victory.
“Don't recognize anything. Your recognition does not matter to us,” Maduro said.
“We have decided to be free and we are going to be free and independent, with you or without you.
Your opinion is not important to us.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney urged all sides to refrain from violence and other actions that could raise tensions in the South American oil-producing nation.
“We call on the Venezuelan government to respect the rights of Venezuelan citizens to peaceful assembly and free speech,” Carney said in a statement.
He said Washington “notes the acceptance by both candidates for an audit of the ballots and supports calls for a credible and transparent process to reassure the Venezuelan people regarding the results.”
Maduro initially accepted the proposal for a full audit of the close election, but backtracked and hardened his stance against it.
Venezuelan Supreme Court bars any chance of a manual recount of votes.
A manual recount of votes isn't possible in Venezuela, the head of the country's Supreme Court said Wednesday, suggesting there is no legal basis for the opposition's push for a ballot-by-ballot audit of the narrow presidential election results.
In nationally televised remarks, Venezuelan Chief Justice Luisa Estella Morales said Venezuela's 1999 constitution eliminated manual recounts in favor of a “system audit.”
“In Venezuela the electoral system is completely automated. Therefore, a manual count does not exist. Anyone who thought that could really happen has been deceived,” she said.
“The majority of those who are asking for a manual count know it and are clear about it.
Elections are not audited ballot by ballot but through the system.”
Her comments came a day after the sounds of clanking pots and pans and bursting fireworks rang out in Caracas as tensions mounted over Venezuela's tight election results.
Supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles banged pots and pans to protest the government's refusal to recount the votes, while supporters of President-elect Nicolas Maduro set off fireworks to celebrate his victory and drown out the noise.
Maduro, the late President Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor, is scheduled to take office on Friday. Electioon authorities proclaimed his president-elect on Monday despite Capriles' demand for a recount.
Venezuela's state-run AVN news agency said at least eight people had been killed in post-election violence across the country.
AVN also reported that authorities had arrested 135 people in connection with political violence.
The government news agency tied the deaths to opposition protests and said the victims were all followers of Maduro. Government health clinics, food distribution centers, a bank and a preschool program were the targets of violence, officials said.
Since the tally was announced, both Capriles and Maduro have publicly urged supporters to remain peaceful while also accusing each other of inciting violence.
Latam countries in OAS recognized Maduro as Venezuela’s elected president.
Representatives from several Latinamerican and Caribbean countries before the Organization of American States recognized on Wednesday Nicolas Maduro as elected president of Venezuela.
Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Uruguay among others congratulated the new head of state and praised the Venezuelan people for their massive and peaceful turnout last Sunday for the historic voting day.
Back to News Headlines