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Election body widens vote audit in Venezuela

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's election authority said on Thursday it would audit the remaining 46 percent of electronic votes that have not been checked since President-elect Nicolas Maduro won Sunday's presidential election.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) carried out an audit of 54 percent of the ballots and has said Maduro received 50.8 percent of the vote, compared to 49 percent for his opposition rival Henrique Capriles.

"We do this (expand the audit) in order to preserve a climate of harmony ... and isolate violent sectors that are seeking to injure democracy," Tibisay Lucena, the CNE president, said in a televised speech.

Capriles, who says the opposition's figures show he won and alleges that there were more than 3,000 irregularities on voting day, immediately said his team accepted the CNE's decision and that he believed the truth would come out.

After the council's five rectors met to consider the opposition's request for a recount, Lucena said the date for the start of the wider audit would be announced next week.

Maduro is due to be sworn in as president in Caracas on Friday at a ceremony attended by several Latin American leaders.

Capriles, who is the governor of Miranda state, called for his supporters to play music from their homes in protest at the inauguration. But he welcomed the wider audit as a way out of the dispute in the OPEC nation of 29 million people.

"We can show the country the truth ... we have identified where the problems are. With this, we're where we want to be," the opposition leader said, adding that the government must stop "persecuting" his followers.

"The CNE has made it possible that this crisis can be resolved, and for it to be resolved there has to be the will," he said. "The country wants dialogue, calm and peace."

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis and Andres Enrique Pretel; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130419/venezuelas-election-body-widens-vote-audit-100-percent