In Venezuela Tensions Rise Amid Wait for Vote Audit

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -

Tensions are high in Venezuela as opposition leader Henrique Capriles pressures the National Electoral Council to permit a complete audit of the April 14 presidential election.

Capriles called on the council to announce by the end of Thursday that it will also allow his team to examine registers containing voters’ signatures and fingerprints.

“We are not going to allow you to make fools out of us,” Capriles said, directing his statement at representatives of the electoral council during a news conference Wednesday. “We are not going to accept a flawed audit.”

The council said last week that it would allow an audit of 46 percent of the vote not already audited. It said it would announce this week when it would start comparing vote tallies from each machine with the individual vote receipts from that machine.

Opposition politician Diego Scharifker said a complete audit would reduce tensions on both sides of Venezuela’s political divide. “The country wants to end the election chapter, but with the truth,” Scharifker, a former student leader, said in an email to The Associated Press.

As Capriles turned up pressure on the council, Maduro’s allies threatened to prosecute him over violence that erupted after the vote.

Iris Varela, an official responsible for overseeing Venezuela’s penitentiary system, suggested that Capriles would soon be behind bars. “We are preparing a cell for you,” Varela said.

Capriles vehemently denies responsibility for isolated acts of violence committed by some of his supporters. On numerous occasions since his narrow election defeat, Capriles has said he’s leading “a peaceful struggle” to force the council to agree to a complete audit.