Venezuelan opposition says hurdle cleared in Maduro recall

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Venezuela's opposition says officials have validated enough signatures to proceed to the next phase of a referendum to recall unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.

Opposition leader Jesus Torrealba says election officials confirmed the validity of some 407,000 signatures that were under review. That's more than double the 200,000 required.

He says there is "no formal, legal or technical excuse" for the next phase of the recall drive not to begin immediately.

The National Election Council has not confirmed the validation of the signatures. But Torrealba said he expects an announcement soon.

If confirmed, the opposition can begin collecting the roughly 4 million signatures needed to hold a referendum on ousting Maduro.

Venezuela has been rocked by an economic crisis marked by rampant inflation and shortages of food, medicine and other goods.