The Washington Times - April 17, 2013, 01:16PM

With tensions mounting in Caracas over Sunday’s tight election results, the White House called on the Venezuelan government to allow a “credible and transparent process” to vet the election results and also urged it to allow for peaceful protests.

“The United States notes the acceptance by both candidates for an audit of the ballots and supports calls for a credible and transparent process to reassure the Venezuelan people regarding the results,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Wednesday. “Such a process would contribute to political dialogue and help advance the country’s democracy.”


Venezuelan voters went to the polls April 14 to elect a new leader. Two days later election authorities proclaimed Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor, the country’s president-elect, despite his challenger’s call for a recount. Mr. Maduro is scheduled to be sworn in on Friday.

In the days since, supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski have been seen banging pots and pans to protest the government’s refusal to hold a recount. But Venezuela’s top prosecutor says the political unrest since the election has been far more violent with at least seven people killed and 61 injured in political clashes. The state-run AVN news agency reported that authorities have arrested 135 people in connection to political violence.

In his statement, Mr. Carney called on the Venezuelan government to allow for peaceful protests and urged citizens not to resort to violence.

“We call on the Venezuelan government to respect the rights of Venezuelan citizens to peaceful assembly and free speech,” Mr. Carney said in a statement. “We also urge everyone to refrain from violence and other measures that could raise tensions at this difficult moment.”

Mr. Maduro secured 50.8 percent of votes in Sunday’s election, while opposition candidate Mr. Capriles garnered 49 percent, according to Venezuela’s National Election Council.