Venezuela’s National Electoral Council, CNE, announced Monday that the first step of the recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro has been successfully completed.
Speaking on the CNE findings, CNE President Tibisay Lucena declared that 24 states met the requirements needed for the recall referendum to proceed to the next stage.
Of the 1.9 million signatures collected, 1.6 million were considered valid, said Lucena.
The decision comes despite objections from Jorge Rodriguez, head of the Socialist Party, PSUV, who declared there were too many irregularities to allow the process to proceed.
“It is legally dead,” he told media at an earlier press conference in Caracas.
Lucena has promised to investigate all irregularities.
The validation of signatures is the first step in a 12-step process to launch a recall referendum.
Right-wing leaders are pushing for the referendum to happen before the end of the year, which would mean that the country would be forced to hold snap elections.
If a recall referendum removes Maduro from office after he passes the four-year mark of his term in office on Jan. 10, 2017, then Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz will take over as president until the next scheduled election, meaning the opposition to have to wait until 2019.