Venezuela Opposition Plots 'Zero Hour' After Big Anti-Maduro Vote

Venezuela Opposition Plots 'Zero Hour' After Big Anti-Maduro Vote

Over 7 million out of 19.5 million eligible voters have participated in the opposition poll, nearly the number of 7.7 million voters who backed the opposition in the last presidential elections.

David Smilde, a Tulane University expert on Venezuela, said the result would likely rally the worldwide community even more strongly against the July 30 vote.

Maduro has slammed the opposition vote as meaningless and illegitimate.

"This is why the government does not want to hold any more elections".

Pope Francis did not mention the referendum, but as it was taking place, he again mentioned Venezuela at the end of his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square.

Ordinary Venezuelans blaming food and medicine shortages on Maduro's policies, however, seized on the vote as a way of telling the president to leave office.

The woman's death brought to 96 the number of people who have died in almost four months of protests and political agitation in Venezuela's streets. More than 100 have died in clashes and protests since April.

The political deadlock promises little respite for those suffering in the listing economy of the oil-rich South American nation.

Venezuelans rejection to President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the Constitution of the country was imminent.

Several Latin American countries and the Catholic Church have criticized Maduro's move to redraft the constitution.

In the referendum, Venezuelans were asked to respond "yes" or "no" to three questions.

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"It clearly states that Maduro is as deeply unpopular as he has always been thought to be, and it shows, as the polls have suggested, that Venezuelans are overwhelmingly against the idea of establishing a constitutional assembly", Philip reports.

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.

The turnout is slightly smaller than the 7.7 million people who voted for opposition candidates at the 2015 parliamentary elections.

The result may not have been binding, but Venezuela "sent a clear message to the national executive and the world", announced Central University of Venezuela president Cecilia Garcia Arocha, noting that 6,492,381 voted in the country and 693,789 overseas.

It fears the new body could herald dictatorship.

"Don't go insane, calm down", he said on Sunday, vowing his Constituent Assembly would bring peace to the volatile nation of 30 million people.

The opposition plans to burn ballot papers from the informal poll so those who voted against the government can not be identified and victimised. "Today we're following his legacy, with President Nicolas Maduro ..."

"They have convened an internal consultation with the opposition parties, with their own mechanisms, without electoral rulebooks, without prior verification, without further verification". Still, some supporters said they were disappointed.

A view of confrontations between pro and anti-government demonstrators as members of the police patrol the area during an unofficial referendum organized by the opposition in Caracas, Venezuela, 16 July 2017. "We are voting to get them out".

"I have never seen a situation where opening times for a practice run of an election have to be extended", said Hector Rodriguez, head of the Zamora constituent campaign, at a press conference. "We don't want to be a country without freedom".

Men on motorbikes opened fire, killing 60-year-old Xiomara Soledad Scott, and wounding three others.

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