Chavez to face referendum

In a further challenge to President Hugo Chavez's rule, Venezuela's National Election Council says enough petitions have been counted to trigger a referendum on his rule.

    International observers monitored the petition count

    President Chavez said on Thursday that he was ready to submit to a referendum on his leadership.

    "We are ready to go to a presidential referendum," the leader said in a broadcast to the nation from the presidential palace in Caracas, as thousands of his supporters cheered him outside.

    Venezuela's opposition obtained enough signatures to trigger a referendum on the rule of President Hugo Chavez, electoral authorities said on Thursday. 

    Senior National Electoral Council official Jorge Rodriguez said preliminary electronic results showed 2.45 million valid pro-referendum signatures were collected, more than the 2.44 million required.

    Officials spent the weekend verifying some 700,000 signatures, in addition to the nearly two million previously verified.

    Scenarios

    Venezuela's constitution allows for a recall at any time past
    the halfway point of an official's term. 

    If the referendum is held before 16 August - when Chavez begins his fourth year in office - and he loses, new presidential elections must be held. 

    If the referendum is held after 16 August and Chavez loses, there is no election afterwards and the vice-president takes over from him.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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