A bid to recall Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has secured enough signatures in the first stage of an attempt to wrest power from the socialist leader, the country's electoral council announced late Monday.
The opposition gathered the necessary support - one per cent of the electorate - in each of the country's 24 states, said Tibisay Lucena, head of the National Electoral Council (CNE).
The CNE must now set a date for the next stage: a three-day period during which the campaigners must secure the backing of 20 per cent of the electorate with a second petition in order to trigger a referendum.
Venezuela is mired in a political and economic crisis amid widespread shortages of food and medicine.
Both the opposition and international human rights groups have accused Maduro, whose official term ends in January 2019, of violations of democracy and human rights.