- Coming stage requires 20% of voters to sign last week of Oct.
- Earlier CNE decision suggests referendum delayed until 2017
Venezuela’s electoral body officially set the next stage in the process to hold a referendum on President Nicolas Maduro’s rule for the last week of October.
The National Electoral Council ordered an internal committee to develop by Sept. 13 a timeline and a proposal for locations where citizens can sign to support the recall, according to an e-mailed statement. The subsequent stage requires 20 percent of voters registered as of April 30, or about 19.6 million voters, to sign the petition for the process to advance.
The decision comes after the CNE, as the electoral council is known, thwarted the opposition’s preferred choice of holding a referendum vote this year. Electoral council chief Tibisay Lucena this month announced a new 90-day verification period that would clearly push the referendum into the coming year.
Venezuela’s opposition has accused the government of trying to delay the referendum into 2017, which would allow the vice president to take over if Maduro is recalled and thus allow the ruling socialist party to hang on to power until 2019. The opposition is planning a march in Caracas on Sept. 1 to pressure the electoral council to speed up the process.