Caracas: The Venezuelan opposition on Monday began the process of validating the 1 per cent of signatures required to request a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro at centres provided by the National Electoral Council (CNE) across the country.
"The validation process was launched nationwide at 8 a.m., but we have reports that at 6 a.m. people were already lining up to take part," said the former presidential candidate and current governor of Miranda state, Opposition Leader Henrique Capriles.
As chief promoter of the recall, Capriles said he hopes the electoral authority will comply with the schedule established for the validation process, which is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day from this Monday until next Friday, June 24, EFE news agency reported.
"We hope the CNE is punctual, because every minute we lose in the morning we will make up for in the afternoon. For example, if they show up at 8:30 to start the morning, the day should end at 4:30 in the afternoon," he said.
Allowed to take part in the validation are 1.3 million people whose signatures were previously approved by the CNE out of the 1.8 million the opposition presented to request the presidential recall.
"We have to stand firm at this stage. What should be legally confirmed are 196,000 signatures, but we're going to confirm 1,352,000 so the government has no excuses," Capriles said.
The Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, the coalition of opposition parties that is leading this process, has rolled out a special operation to help citizens who wish to validate their signatures, which even includes transporting them to the centers set up for that purpose.
The opposition leader reminded those taking part that validation can be done "in any centre of the state where you vote".
Capriles insisted that Maduro's recall should be carried out this year.
After the process of signature validation is finalised, the MUD must call on 20 per cent of registered voters -- some 4 million -- to activate the referendum against Maduro.