Capriles expects Venezuela vote ruling 'within hours'

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, narrowly defeated at the polls by the late Hugo Chavez's successor, said the Supreme Court will decide very soon whether a new presidential vote should be held.

In an interview Wednesday with AFP, Capriles warned that if the answer was no, he would bring his fight to "international bodies." He insists the election was stolen from him.

"Within hours, we are going to have a decision on whether (the Supreme Court) accepts" the opposition's bid to hold new elections, he said.

The Miranda state governor, who has not conceded the race, which the National Electoral Board says Nicolas Maduro won by 1.49 points, said that if the high court takes on the legal case, it should last about three or four months but the country's court system is not known for its swiftness.

Capriles has filed two complaints: one over the electoral process in general and another more specific one alleging irregularities at more than 5,000 polling stations.

But if the court rejects the challenges, Capriles vowed to take his fight over the election's fairness "to every body it can be heard in" including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. That is part of the Washington-based Organization of American States.

"Now, the ball is in the government's court. It is the one who has an illegitimacy crisis on its hands," said Capriles, 40.

"But there is no reason for it not to be admitted," he said of the court and his complaint.

He called the government's partial review of some results in the April 14 vote to replace Chavez "a farse."

"If they did a proper review, the election would be revoked. That's why they don't do it," he said.

He charged that Maduro is covering himself up with "an umbrella of illegitimacy."

Socialist Maduro, 50, defeated opposition leader Capriles, at least officially, by a razor-thin margin in the election to replace the leftist Chavez.

Maduro charged the United States with financially backing the Venezuelan opposition.

Chavez, the most prominent face of the Latin American left for over a decade, was Venezuela's president for 14 years before his death in March.

Venezuela sits atop the world's largest proven oil reserves, and Chavez had harnessed its wealth to support popular social programs and provide aid to fellow leftist leaders across the region.

Maduro, a former bus driver and union organizer, was a member of Chavez's inner circle throughout the late leader's reign, serving as his vice president and foreign minister.

In the interview, Capriles depicted Maduro as unqualified to govern a country with a myriad of problems like rampant street crime, runaway inflation, shortages of goods and low salaries that make it hard for people to make ends meet.

"Imagine, in the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, we do not even have toilet paper," Capriles said. He was alluding to a recent announcement by Maduro that the government will import 50 million rolls of the stuff because it is in such short supply.


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