Vote audit confirms Chavez win

An audit done by international observers has confirmed that President Hugo Chavez has beaten a recall referendum and that the vote is fair, an electoral council official has said.

    Former US president Carter said vote was transparent and fair

    International observers carried out additional checks after the opposition rejected the results and said electronic voting machines had been manipulated to give Chavez a victory in the 15 August vote. If he had lost, Chavez would have been removed from office. 

    "The audit is completed... the results we have obtained with this check are totally compatible with results of the electoral council," Organisation of American States chief Cesar Gaviria told reporters on Saturday.

    The audit found only small discrepancies and no evidence that anyone had tampered with the electronic polling system, monitors said. 

    Observers had hoped the referendum would end more than two years of political conflict between ex-army officer Chavez and the opposition, who allegehis reforms are driving the world's fifth strongest oil exporter toward Cuba-style communism. 

    Elected in 1998, Chavez has faced fierce resistance to the social policies he says are helping to distribute more fairly Venezuela's oil wealth. His foes say he has tightened his grip on key institutions, including the courts and the electoral council, in an attempt to stay in power. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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