According to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, a referendum the opposition is trying to recall him will not take place this year.
There was no time to organize the recall referendum, said Nicolas Maduro.
On June 10 the National Electoral Council (CNE) declared more than 600,000 signatures on a petition for the referendum invalid.
Venezuela’s opposition says the electoral authorities are working alongside the government to derail the process.
Opposition leaders say their signatures on the petition have also been invalidated, revealing the electoral council’s bias.
Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is among those who say their signatures have been ruled out for “failing to meet the requirements”.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, described the move as “shameful” and “a provocation”.
Nicolas Maduro accused the opposition of fraud and said he would ask the Supreme Court on June 13 to annul the process.
“If they meet the requirements, the recall referendum will take place next year, full stop” said Nicolas Maduro at a rally in Caracas.
“If they don’t meet the requirements, there will be no recall referendum, full stop.”
Timing is essential for both sides. If the referendum is held by January 10, 2017, and President Nicolas Maduro loses, a new election will be called.
If it is held after January 10, 2017, and the vote goes against Nicolas Maduro, his vice-president takes over and remains in power until the end of the presidential term, in January 2019.
It said it had gathered the signatures of 1.85 million voters backing a recall referendum, many more than the 197,000 needed at this initial stage. The CNE said on June 10 there were 1.97 million signatures on the list.
The voters whose signatures have not been struck off by the CNE – more than 1.3 million people – will need to turn up at regional electoral offices to confirm their identities later this month.
They will have five days from June 20 to have their signatures checked, CNE President Tibisay Lucena announced on June 10.
Henrique Capriles urged voters to get ready to comply with the CNE demand and go to government offices to have their identities checked later this month.
Venezuela is in a serious economic crisis, which the opposition blames on mistaken left-wing policies of Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.