CARACAS, Venezuela -- As Venezuela prepared Friday to swear in a new president, the pro-government election tribunal surprised observers and agreed to opposition demands to review the controversial vote that gave Hugo Chavez heir Nicolas Maduro a narrow victory.
The National Electoral Council apparently bowed to public pressure. Large crowds have taken to the streets in recent nights, beating pots and pans in a time-honored Latin American tradition of protest. Each night, they have been greeted by pro-government demonstrators trying to drown them out with fireworks.
Eight people were killed in clashes following Sunday's election.
Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who lost to Maduro by less than 2 percentage points according to official returns, said he was confident the review would prove he won. His campaign presented to the tribunal more than 3,000 alleged irregularities.
Tibisay Lucena, Electoral Council president, said the process will take 30 days and likely start next week.
“[We] take this decision in hopes of helping to preserve a climate of harmony among Venezuelans and also to isolate violent sectors that irresponsibly seek to harm democracy,” she said.