Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Venezuelan Opposition Draws 7.1 Million Protest Voters Against Government

Venezuelan Opposition Draws 7.1 Million Protest Voters Against Government Venezuelan Opposition Draws 7.1 Million Protest Voters Against Government
Ellis Copeland | 17 July, 2017, 20:28

David Smilde, a Tulane University expert on Venezuela, said Sunday's results would likely rally the worldwide community even more strongly against the July 30 vote Maduro has called to elect members of the assembly that will retool Venezuela's 1999 constitution.

"With 95 percent of the votes counted we have 7,187,170 voters who participated", she said, adding that 6.4 million of the votes were in the country while 693,789 Venezuelans cast their ballots overseas.

They have also voted to call upon the military to defend Venezuela's constitution. President Maduro argues that the constituent assembly is the only way to help Venezuela out of its economic and political crisis that has sparked protests nationwide.

"Prisoners are persecuted in front of arbitrary military tribunals, violating the Constitution...as if they were unsafe animals", they added.

Some 98.3 per cent of the participants (6,384,607) backed the renewal of public powers, the holding of "free and transparent" elections and a transitional government of national unity.

Though the dividing lines and conflicts are not new, Maduro's hesitation to hold a presidential election led to the recent bout of street violence and protests, leading to the death of around 90 people. The actual election is due to take place on July 30.

Sunday's unofficial poll was held in improvised polling across Venezuela and in more than 100 countries around the world. Still, some supporters said they were disappointed.

"We have received a clear mandate of 7.1 million to be sure that we will achieve a democratic change".

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To voice deep misgivings about the deteriorating state of affairs, Venezuela's opposition leaders staged a symbolic poll in voting booths across the country.

Opposition organizers pointed out Sunday's turnout follows just two weeks of organization, with voting at just 2,000 polling stations, compared to 14,000 at the 2015 vote. Fox traveled to Venezuela Saturday with a group of Latin American former presidents to show support for the opposition referendum.

Some have said that the "popular consultation" is illegitimate, as it lacked the backing of the state - which, instead, held its own "practice vote" for the constituent assembly that is scheduled for 30 July.

In March, the Supreme Court decided it would take over the National Assembly.

The opposition has criticized Maduro's Constituent Assembly as an attempt to establish a dictatorship in which the National Assembly's powers would be further weakened.

Deadly violence returned as a 61-year-old woman was killed and three other people wounded when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on people lined up to vote in Catia, a working-class neighborhood in the capital, prosecutors said.

The opposition blamed a "paramilitary" gang for the shooting, which prosecutors said they would investigate.

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