Venezuela's election held peacefully
Updated: 2013-04-15 10:08
CARACAS - Venezuela's presidential election was held peacefully Sunday, with the final results expected to be released by the National Electoral Council (CNE) a few hours later.
Venezuelans line up to vote for a successor to late President Hugo Chavez, in Caracas April 14, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Venezuelans called for a presidential election after the death of former president Hugo Chavez on March 5 and they will decide on the country's political, economic and social future by choosing between the heir of Chavez, acting president Nicolas Maduro, and the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles for a six-year term.
The election proceeded with normality and peace, according to CNE reports and Plan Republica, the military operation deployed to guarantee security in the voting stations.
According to Venezuela's General Attorney Luis Ortega Diaz, more than 2,000 officials of the public prosecutor's offices were deployed in 13,810 electoral centers, which include 39,322 voting stations in the country and abroad.
The election was guarded by more than 125,000 police officers and 141,000 military elements.
Acting President Nicolas Maduro defended the country's electoral system by saying that the system was "perfect" after he voted Sunday afternoon at Miguel Antonio Caro Bolivarian High School in western Caracas.
"You cannot attack a perfect electoral system to justify yourself. You have to have standings," he accused the opposition candidate.
Maduro stressed that the electoral system has become the "most reliable, transparent and fast, internationally recognized" system in the whole world.
Maduro said in a statement "We are breaking records for participation with 11.5 million Venezuelans having already voted by 14:40 local time (1910 GMT)," and added the number is "fabulous. "
Henrique Capriles, presidential candidate of the opposition coalition, when asked by reporters about the transparency of the CNE at a press conference after he cast vote, said he was confident that the elections will reflect people's will.
"Even though there are complaints in the process, no one will know who you vote for, by that I mean that the votes impose the will of the people," he said.
Capriles rejected the statements of Jorge Rodriguez, Chief of Maduro's campaign team, who said that at 11:00 local time some 8 million Venezuelans have already voted, saying "The campaign team' s chief of the other party gave information on the number of voters to try to disturb the process, because we all know what is happening. We all know the way in which our force is deployed. The force of the others is deployed early, while ours is currently developing."
Most of the polls showed that Maduro leads with a margin of 20 percentage points in the race against Capriles.
The polling stations opened at 6 am local time (1030 GMT) and closed at 6 p.m. (2230 GMT).
CNE Vice-President Sandra Oblitas said the elections' results to be issued by the CNE Sunday night "will be the unfailing expression of the sovereignty and will of all Venezuelans."
While Venezuela's Vice-President Jorge Arreaza Sunday affirmed that the result of the presidential elections will be the ratification of the course determined by late president Chavez.
"We, the Venezuelans, have the privilege that we can choose between two visions. Today we decide if we ratify the course determined by commander Chavez in 1998 or not," Arreaza said in reference to the main candidates, Nicolas Maduro, political heir of the deceased leader and the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles.
Local media reported the presence of official motorized groups in some voting centers. People denounced sound systems at high volume in some homes adjacent to voting centers.
In Caracas and in Carabobo and Zulia states' capital cities, the subway service was free to allow the voters to transport.
According to the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN), there was large attendance of Venezuelan voters abroad, especially in cities of China, Russia, Spain, the United States, Canada, Peru, Nicaragua and Ecuador, among others. According to figures of the CNE, more than 100,000 Venezuelans abroad are registered to vote Sunday.