The council’s president, Francisco Carrasquero, told a press conference on Sunday that the country would know the result by 4 or 5 June – “unless there is an absolutely necessary delay”.
Carrasquero’s announcement came on the third and final day of the verification process of more than one million petition signatures seeking such a recall.
A coalition of business and labour leaders has bitterly opposed the leftist-populist leader’s government.
Welcoming the challenge
Chavez, a former paratrooper who was temporarily ousted in April 2002 before returning to power, said on Sunday he had no fears of a potential referendum on his rule if enough signatures are validated.
“I have no fear of a referendum, I have my political force.”
“I have no fear of a referendum, I have my political force”
The Organization of American States (OAS) and the US-based Carter Center has been monitoring the three-day verification process.
Opposition leaders claim to have collected 3.4 million signatures. However, electoral authorities have so far validated only 1.9m – 555,000 short of the minimum required by law.
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, however, there is no election and the vice-president takes office.
In either case, Chavez would be out.
Carrasquero has ordered the “strict verification” of petition signatures after a person was detained in the capital in possession of 800 odd counterfeit identity papers.