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Venezuela's Capriles cancels march, seeks dialogue with gov't

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Caracas, Apr 16 (EFE).- Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said Tuesday that he is ready for dialogue with President-elect Nicolas Maduro and he asked his supporters to abandon plans for a march in this capital to demand a recount of every ballot cast in last weekend's election.

"I want to say to Venezuelans and to the government, all of us here are disposed to open a dialogue so this crisis can be resolved in the coming hours," Capriles told a press conference after seven people died in post-election violence.

Voters in the oil-rich Andean nation went to the polls Sunday to choose a successor to left-leaning nationalist President Hugo Chavez, who died last month after nearly 14 years in office.

Maduro, who became acting president when Chavez died, defeated Capriles by 50.78 percent to 48.95 percent amid turnout of 79 percent, according to the CNE electoral authority, which Tuesday proclaimed Maduro as president-elect.

Capriles, citing the narrow margin of victory, demands a full recount.

The Venezuelan electoral system relies on electronic voting backed up by paper ballots.

The CNE, which automatically reviews a random sample of 54 percent of the votes to detect discrepancies between the electronic tabulation and the paper records, rejected Capriles' demand for a 100-percent recount.

Capriles, 40, emphasized Tuesday that he will conduct the struggle for a recount in a manner consistent with Venezuela's laws and constitution.

Maduro had earlier blamed Capriles partisans for shootings and arson attacks on offices of the ruling party and said he would block the opposition march planned for Wednesday.

"I have made the decision: we will not mobilize tomorrow, and I ask all my supporters to accept that," Capriles said Tuesday. "He who goes out (on the streets) is on the side of violence, is playing the government's game."

"Thus, as you (the government) ask that we make a call for no violence, I demand that you also cease the persecution of people who are exercising their right to ask for an audit and a vote-by-vote count," the opposition candidate said.

The 50-year-old Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, garnered only 265,000 more votes than Capriles on Sunday.

Chavez, who died March 5 after a long battle with cancer, defeated Capriles 55.5 percent to 44.39 percent in the Oct. 7 presidential election, a difference of 1.6 million votes.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130416/venezuelas-capriles-cancels-march-seeks-dialogue-govt