Opponents of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro have gathered enough signatures to permit them to conduct a second petition drive aimed at removing the socialist leader from office.
The electoral authorities said the opposition coalition collected signatures from at least 1% of voters in each state — a requirement for pursuing a petition calling for a recall election.
The opposition now faces a much tougher challenge, as it must gather signatures from 20% of Venezuela’s registered voters, or four million people, to force a recall election and it will have just three days to do it.
With Venezuela’s economic troubles worsening, with triple-digit inflation and widespread shortages of goods, opinion polls say a large majority of voters want Mr Maduro gone.
If his opponents succeed in defeating him in a recall vote this year, Venezuela would hold a new presidential election. If it happened in 2017, Mr Maduro would be replaced by his vice president.
Leaders of the socialist party have said they will not allow the vote to happen before next year.
Also on Monday, the country’s Supreme Court declared the opposition- controlled National Assembly in contempt until three contested legislative seats are vacated.
The congress swore in the three politicians last week in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling.
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