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South American leaders likely to back Venezuela's Maduro in emergency meeting

Despite complaints from some Venezuelans that Sunday's election had irregularities, analysts say leaders in the region will likely support Mr. Maduro’s election in order to maintain stability.

By Steven BodzinCorrespondent / April 18, 2013

Venezuela's interim President Nicolás Maduro raises his fist as he holds up the official certificate declaring him winner of the presidential election at the Electoral Council in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday. South American leaders will attend an emergency meeting tonight in Lima, Peru, to discuss the contested election of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

Ariana Cubillos/AP

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Santiago, Chile

Presidents from across South America will attend an emergency meeting tonight in Lima, Peru, to discuss the contested election of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

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Analysts say they will likely support Mr. Maduro’s election in order to maintain stability and avoid a fruitless fight, despite ongoing complaints from some Venezuelans that the election was fraudulent.

“It’s the appropriate forum,” says Adrian Bonilla, general secretary of the Latin American Faculty of Social Science, an international research organization headquartered in Costa Rica. “If they adopt a resolution, that’s going to be definitive.”

The meeting was called by Peruvian President Ollanta Humala in his role as president of Unasur, a body of all 12 independent South American states. Unasur is a forum for political discussions that was founded as a local body for dispute resolution in order to increase South American independence. It gained legitimacy as a regional player when it supported President Rafael Correa of Ecuador against what he said was a coup attempt in December 2010, and by suspending Paraguay’s membership after the hasty removal of President Fernando Lugo last year.

Unasur has aimed to replace the Organization of American States as the go-to conflict resolution body in South America, Mr. Bonilla says. Its decisions are made by a consensus of its diverse members and it avoids the perception of outside interference in the region’s affairs, he says.

Venezuelan election authorities declared Maduro the winner by less than a 2 percent margin Sunday night. Neighbors including Colombia and Brazil have recognized him as the winner, even as his opponent, Henrique Capriles, complains of irregularities.

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