Venezuela's Henrique Capriles issues ultimatum over vote audit

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles speaks at a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday Henrique Capriles told a news conference he would not accept a "joke audit" of the election results

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Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has threatened to take action over disputed votes he claims were "stolen" by Nicolas Maduro's government.

Mr Capriles demanded details of an audit of the vote the electoral council says it will carry out.

Mr Capriles said the council had a "deadline" of Thursday, but did not specify what action he would take.

Mr Maduro won the 14 April election by less than two percentage points.

He was sworn in as president last week, succeeding his mentor Hugo Chavez, who died in March of cancer.

But the opposition cried foul, and tensions in the divided country have reached fever pitch, with the government accusing the opposition of fomenting coup attempts and the opposition accusing the government of "desperate lies".

Nine people died in post-election protests and both the government and opposition are planning more protests on 1 May.

'Get serious'

Mr Capriles says the vote was marred by thousands of irregularities, including voter intimidation, and has demanded a full recount.

The national electoral council (CNE) offered an electronic audit of the vote last week, to begin this week, but says Mr Maduro's victory remains "irreversible".

It has so far failed to give any details of the audit and on Wednesday Mr Capriles said he would wait only until Thursday.

A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a picture of late President Hugo Chavez during Mr Maduro's inauguration in Caracas, Venezuela, on 19 April 2013 Polls results showed a country equally split between the "Chavista" government and opposition

"We will not accept a joke audit," Mr Capriles said at a news conference.

"It's time to get serious."

He repeated his accusations that Mr Maduro had manipulated poll results, telling a news conference: "The truth - and it is as big as our country is wide - is that you stole the election. That is the truth.

"You stole this electoral process, and you have to explain that to this country and to the world."

The government, meanwhile, accuses the opposition of stirring up the post-election violence in a bid to engender a coup, and the government-controlled National Assembly has now announced a commission to investigate whether Mr Capriles was responsible.

Pedro Carreno, who will head the commission, dubbed Mr Capriles a "murderer" as he announced its formation - joining the National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello, who has called him a "fascist murderer".

Prisons Minister Iris Varela, meanwhile, has said a jail cell awaits Mr Capriles.

Media coverage of the post-election violence has been at odds, with state media describing pro-opposition mobs torching health clinics but opposition media saying many reports of the violence were fabricated.

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