OAS chief backs call for recount in Venezuela vote

The head of the Organization of American States on Monday backed calls for a recount in Venezuela's presidential elections, offering the help of experts from the regional body.

"Regarding the need to carry out an audit and complete recount of the vote, Secretary General (Jose Miguel) Insulza expressed his support for this initiative and put at Venezuela's disposal the OAS' team of election experts," the organization said in a statement.

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles demanded a recount after Venezuela's election council declared acting President Nicolas Maduro the winner of the snap election to replace the late president Hugo Chavez.

Maduro, whom Chavez had endorsed before his death of cancer on March 5, said his victory was "fair, legal, constitutional," but said he was open to an audit of the vote.

Nevertheless, Maduro's government called on supporters celebrate the official proclamation of his victory by the National Electoral Council, which said Maduro won with 50.7 percent of the vote compared to 49.1 for Capriles.

Chavez allies in the region -- Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Argentina -- also congratulated Maduro on his victory.

UNASUR, another regional grouping that does not include the United States, said the election results should be respected, hailing Venezuelans' "civic and democratic spirit."

It went on to say that the National Electoral Council was the "sole competent authority in the matter" and that complaints must be "resolved within the existing legal framework."

The United States, meanwhile, said an audit of the results in Venezuela's tightly contested weekend presidential election would be an "important, prudent and necessary step."

"In our view, rushing to a decision in these circumstances would be inconsistent with the expectations of Venezuelans for a clear and democratic outcome," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.