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Venezuela opposition makes dialogue contingent on election audit

Caracas, Oct 17 (IANS) Venezuela’s MUD opposition alliance has said it will only renew talks with President Nicolas Maduro if he agrees to a comprehensive audit of just-completed gubernatorial elections.

“We demand a total audit, quantitative and qualitative … of the entire electoral process, with trustworthy international verification,” MUD spokesman Angel Oropeza said while reading from a statement, Efe news reported.

The opposition has refused to recognise the results of Sunday’s balloting, which gave Maduro’s leftist PSUV party 17 of the 23 contested governorships.

One million voters encountered obstacles when trying to cast ballots in precincts where the opposition traditionally does well, Oropeza said, adding that 350,000 others faced “violence and intimidation inside and outside polling places”.

Foreign election observers said earlier Monday that they deemed the process free and fair.

“The mission considers that the process went off successfully and that the will of the citizens expressed peacefully at the polls has been respected,” the chair of the Council of Latin American Electoral Experts, Nicanor Moscoso, said in Caracas.

“We call on the public and the world to fight for a new electoral system and for the urgent scheduling of free and transparent elections,” MUD’s Oropeza said.

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