Venezuela’s Bolivarian Armed Forces, FANB, said they are committed to respect “the decision of the people” in the coming presidential election of 7 October but at the same time demanded respect for the institution.
“We have summoned all political actors so that as the Armed Forces will remain loyal to the Constitution and respect the decision of the people, they also respect the decision of the supreme and nobody plays games in advancing results” said the chief of the strategic operational command for election day Wilmer Barrientos.
In a press round following a meeting with the election campaign commands for President Hugo Chavez and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, Barrientos said that both commands had agreed that that was the way to proceed.
“The role of the Armed Forces, you know, is vital for the electoral process”, said the military chief who emphatically requested respect for the FANB because “it is a highly professional institution”.
Barrientos added that the Armed Forces on Sunday 7 October not only will they have custody of ballot centres but will also ensure security to all the population.
“I’ve made it very clear that the Armed Forces will act convincingly faced with any focus of violence, come from where it may come”, underlined the military officer and called on all sides “to play clean, with no hidden cards” so that the whole electoral process can be accomplished “with the less anxiety possible”.
“IN Venezuela we’ve always lived through the electoral process with anxiety, as if something terrible is always going to happen, while in other countries it is a motive of festivity. All political sectors must be involved so that 7 October is really a true democratic festivity”, insisted Barrientos.
He also revealed that the Armed Forces will have 139,000 military personnel in the streets on election day distributed among 335 town districts and 1.135 parishes
“We are preparing with the utmost awareness, with much professionalism and patriotic duty to ensure that the whole process culminates in parameters of law and safety, and the less stressful possible”.
Next 7 October 19 million Venezuelans are entitled to vote for a president for the next six years, 2013/2019, among six hopefuls of which Chavez, 58 and Capriles, 40, are clearly leading the dispute.
However pollsters diverged sharply over whether President Chavez will win re-election on October 7 or lose to Capriles in an increasingly close election.
Most of the country's best-known polls show Chávez ahead, but Capriles' poll numbers have been creeping up in the closing days of the campaign. Polls in Venezuela are notoriously controversial and public opinion has shifted quickly.
A survey by respected firm Consultores 21 made public on Wednesday showed Capriles with a slim lead of 0.8 percentage point over Chávez, although this was within the margin of error and similar to the firm's poll a month earlier.
Consultores 21 said 46.5% would vote for Capriles compared with 45.7% for Chávez.
But public opinion firm Hinterlaces released a survey on Wednesday showing 50% of voters backing Chávez with 34% voting for Capriles, although Chávez's 16 percentage point lead was close to the percentage of undecided voters.
Another polling company, Consultores 30.11, released a survey showing Chávez with a lead of almost 20 points over his younger rival. That poll showed 57.2% backing Chávez and 37.5% voting for Capriles.