Jesus Torrealba, the head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), hinted at the bloc’s highly anticipated response to the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) scheduled for 10:00 AM tomorrow morning. The MUD is expected to lay out its strategy as it heads into the second step of the recall referendum against Maduro under extremely adverse conditions.

Speaking to reporters earlier today, Torrealba called for unity among the Venezuela opposition, saying:

We have to keep moving forward together. We might not travel as fast moving together, but we can go further. This is what we’ve found in all of these meetings, and that’s what the announcement [tomorrow] will show.

On the possible content of the actual assignment, Torrealba said:

Throughout this process [of consultations] we’ve found that there’s lots of social consensus for three fundamental ideas that the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica has put forward. First, that we cannot accept unconstitutional measures. Second, that we cannot be the ones to put an end to the recall referendum. Third, that we cannot become divided.

Torrealba also said that the MUD will not abide by the CNE’s requirement that the signatures be collected from 20% of registered voters in every state, since that requirement does not appear in the Constitution and appears to have been inserted into the process as a way to make it more difficult for the MUD to meet its goal. He said:

We will not recognize [the requirement to collect] the 20% by [state]. That is neither in the Constitution nor in the customary electoral practice of the country.

Torrealba’s comments appear to suggest that the MUD will announce tomorrow that it will go ahead and collect signatures from 20% of registered voters as laid out in the Constitution (from among all registered voters), and not as the CNE has demanded.

Former Rector: CNE’s Requirement “Irrational”

Former CNE rector Sobell Mejias said today that the institution’s requirements for the second step of the recall referendum against Maduro are “illogical”, and singled out the requirement to collect signatures from 20% of registered voters in each state as particularly problematic.

For Meijas, the CNE’s requirements are a clear violation of the Venezuelan citizen’s right to vote, since they appear to have been made solely for the purpose of making the exercise of that right difficult or impossible. Meijas said:

The CNE is violating the right of the citizens to exercise their sovereignty by putting up obstacles to participation in political matters – in this case, the presidential recall referendum – which violates the Constitution [and] the laws and regulations that govern referendums.

 Eekhout: Referendum in 2016 Would Violate Constitution

Blank Eekhout is the national coordinator of the Gran Polo Patriotico (GPP), the bloc that includes the PSUV and allied political parties. She spoke today on the opposition’s insistence on having the recall referendum against Maduro this year in order to also hold presidential elections.

Speaking in an interview that aired on Globovision, Eekhout said that holding the referendum in 2016 would violate the constitution. She said:

The referendum is an option, not an obligation. What is an obligation is the presidential election (…) if [the referendum] is held this year, it would go against the Constitution.

The basis for Eekhout’s comments is unclear, since the Constitution does not make a distinction between “options” and “obligations”. The Constitution sets out the framework for both presidential elections and recall referendums without any kind of distinction between the two.

Eekhout also said that the opposition was to blame for the referendum not happening this year, since “they didn’t start it at the right time”, a line that has become popular with PSUV officials over the past several weeks.

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