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Venezuela Opposition Calls for Protests to Push Vote Recount

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s opposition is urging supporters to bang pots and pans tonight in the first of a wave of protests against alleged voting irregularities that it says robbed Henrique Capriles Radonski of the presidency yesterday.

The opposition has asked the national electoral council to block government plans to hold a presidential proclamation ceremony this afternoon for Nicolas Maduro, Capriles told reporters today in Caracas. The council yesterday declared Maduro the winner of the April 14 election with 50.8 percent of the vote.

Donning his trademark baseball cap that bears the colors of the Venezuelan flag, Capriles urged supporters to stage peaceful demonstrations nationwide to pressure election officials to recount votes. While one member of the five-person electoral council has said a recount will take place, the organization has yet to make an official announcement. Capriles said he would lead a procession to the council’s offices on April 17 if demands aren’t met.

“I’ll grab a saucepan so I can hit it hard at eight o’clock tonight so the voice of the people that expressed itself yesterday can be heard,” said Capriles, 40.

Maduro’s campaign manager Jorge Rodriguez said the proclamation will go ahead as planned at 4 p.m. local time.

“It seems some people don’t want to understand that the votes were counted yesterday,” National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello wrote on his Twitter account. “Almost 80 percent participation and the people decided. Nicolas won.”

Capriles said that according to his camp’s calculations he won by “one or two points.” He said his team has proof of 400 voting centers where there was assisted voting and other irregularities that could have affected 300,000 votes.

“I’m not asking them to proclaim Capriles as the winner,” he said. “I’m asking they count each and every vote. If you as a candidate agreed to count each vote, then you shouldn’t run to be proclaimed.”

Outside his campaign headquarters, followers of Capriles gathered to chant and blow horns. Some cars had “fraud” written in white shoe polish on their windows.

Jonathan Linares, a 37-year-old taxi driver from Caracas, said he didn’t believe the results announced by the electoral council.

“We already knew that the electoral council is biased,” Linares said. “We’re going to defend our vote so that they respect the will of the people.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at Cdevereux3@bloomberg.net; Randall Woods in Santiago at rwoods13@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net.

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