Venezue­lans turn out for un­of­fi­cial vote

The Daily Examiner - - WORLD NEWS -

MORE than seven mil­lion Venezue­lans lined up across the coun­try and around the world on Sun­day to vote on Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s re­write of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The pro­posed changes have fu­eled ten­sions in the oil-rich coun­try, which has been hard hit by short­ages and vi­o­lent gov­ern­ment crack­downs on protests in re­cent months.

More than 100 peo­ple have died in po­lit­i­cal clashes since April.

The vote in the un­of­fi­cial, Op­po­si­tion-or­gan­ised ref­er­en­dum was just short of the 7.7 mil­lion who voted for the Op­po­si­tion in Congress.

A woman aged 61 died and four peo­ple were wounded by gun­shots when gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers swarmed an op­po­si­tion polling site in the cap­i­tal, Cara­cas.

Mr Maduro called for an end to vi­o­lence, which he blamed on the Op­po­si­tion, but made no men­tion of the in­ci­dent in com­ments just af­ter the poll closed at 4pm.

“I’m call­ing on the Op­po­si­tion to re­turn to peace, to re­spect for the Con­sti­tu­tion, to sit and talk,” he said on tele­vi­sion.

“Let’s start a new round of talks, of di­a­logue for peace.”

For­eign Min­is­ter Sa­muel Mon­cada tweeted he was ban­ning for­mer Mex­i­can pres­i­dent Vi­cente Fox from the coun­try for “con­spir­ing to pro­mote vi­o­lence and for­eign in­ter­ven­tion”.

Mr Fox went to Venezuela on Satur­day in a group of Latin Amer­i­can for­mer pres­i­dents to sup­port the Op­po­si­tion ref­er­en­dum.

Mr Maduro and mil­i­tary dom­i­nate most state in­sti­tu­tions, but the Op­po­si­tion con­trols Congress and holds three of 23 gov­er­nor­ships.

The Op­po­si­tion called back­ers to vote on three ques­tions. Do they re­ject the con­sti­tu­tional as­sem­bly? Do they want the armed forces to back congress? Do they sup­port the for­ma­tion of a gov­ern­ment com­prised both of Maduro back­ers and op­po­nents?

PHO­TOS: MIGUEL GUTIERREZ/EPA

MAK­ING A STAND: Against a back­drop of for­mer pres­i­dent the late Hugo Chavez, Venezue­lans wait to vote in the “peo­ple’s con­sul­ta­tion” in Cara­cas on Sun­day.

LET PEO­PLE DE­CIDE: A voter casts her bal­lot in Cara­cas.

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