7 million Venezuelans vote against plan to rewrite constitution

18 July, 2017, 00:46 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • National Assembly first Vice President Freddy Guevara speaks to the press accompanied by fellow lawmakers in Caracas Venezuela on Monday. AP

Venezuela is in economic turmoil which the opposition says has been worsened by Mr Maduro, whom they accuse of wanting to create a dictatorship.

Sunday's unofficial poll was held in improvised polling across Venezuela and in more than 100 countries around the world.

Although turnout was lower -at 7 million- than the 11 million that opposition leaders had hoped for, 70 percent of participants voted against the new constitution, according to Datanalisis.

Venezuela's President Maduro calls the protesters "terrorists" and insists the demonstrations are a cover for a coup plot orchestrated by the US. Opposition leaders said that was because it was only able to set up 2,000 polling places in a largely symbolic exercise that the government labeled as illegitimate.

He says the Constituent Assembly, which will have powers to rewrite the constitution and override all other institutions, is the only way to bring peace to the nation of 30 million people. However, no official vote count was available early Monday.

For the past several months, Venezuelans have taken to the streets in opposition of President Maduro.

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Most Venezuelans oppose the Constituent Assembly, which will have power to rewrite the constitution and annul the current opposition-led legislature, but Maduro is pressing on anyway for the vote in two weeks' time.

When asked if the European Union will explore sanctions against Venezuelan leaders, Mogherini echoed the Spanish foreign affairs minister that defended "specific" and "selective" sanctions against "individual" leaders in Venezuela if the elections to the Constituent Assembly are held.

Opposition leaders held an unofficial referendum in which 7million people voted against the proposed rewrite.

I'm not sure there is any going backwards from here.

"Overall the package is pretty radical, especially the idea of a parallel government", said David Smilde, a Tulane University expert on Venezuela.

However, in response to these voices, the Venezuelan bishops have decried the consultation "legitimate" as it represents the Venezuelan people's constitutionally-endowed sovereignty.

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Nearly 100 people have died in more than 100 days of unrest around Venezuela that has seen violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Venezuela was once one of South America's most successful and wealthy countries, but has seen a rapid decline under the government of Nicolas Maduro.

Tensions in Venezuela continue to rise as President Nicolás Maduro, who became head of state after the death of Hugo Chavez, attempts to solidify the influence of his socialist party.

Mogherini suggested that "a large part of the population clearly does not seem to support the Constituent Assembly" and that there is a need of exploring "urgent peaceful solutions".

Opponents of Venezuela's government blame it for turning one of the region's most prosperous countries into an economic basket case with a shrinking economy, soaring inflation and widespread shortages. However the vote, dismissed by Mr Maduro as illegal, was largely boycotted by government supporters.

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