President Maduro Renews Call For Dialogue With Opposition In Venezuela

Kristopher Drake
July 18, 2017

The opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), held a news conference to discuss Sunday's unofficial referendum in which almost 7.2 million Venezuelans rejected President Nicolas Maduro's government.

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.

Monitors of the referendum say 7.2 million people cast ballots, in a country of around 19 million registered voters.

The White House is calling on Venezuelan authorities to cancel plans to form an assembly to rewrite the constitution and instead hold what it calls "free and fair elections".

Violence persists across Venezuela, having caused 115 casualties so far.

Venezuelan bishops have warned that President Maduro is seeking to establish a "socialist, Marxist and militaristic" state as tensions continue to rise in the Latin American country.

Venezuela's opposition vowed on Monday to escalate protests after a massive vote against President Nicolas Maduro in an unofficial plebiscite that the leftist government mocked as a "gigantic fraud".

A week earlier Oscar Perez, a police officer, stole a helicopter and launched an attack against Venezuela's pro-government Supreme Court and the Interior Ministry in Caracas.

The President's call to amend the constitution has led to widespread protests condemning the move. Fox said he would continue to work for a democratic transition in the South American country. "We have given an indisputable mandate for a new Venezuela starting tomorrow".

At an opposition site nearby, Juan Madriz, a 45-year-old insurance company employee, said he didn't object to rewriting the constitution per se, but rejected Maduro's decision to do so without putting that decision to a vote, as his predecessor Hugo Chavez did.

But on Sunday, more than 7 million Venezuelans voted in an unofficial, non-binding referendum, and 98% chose to oppose Maduro's plan.

Still, turnout fell shy of the 7.7 million votes the opposition earned in the 2015 legislative elections.

The President of the Central University of Venezuela, Cecilia GarcĂ­a Arocha, said 6,492,381 people voted within the country and another 693,789 at polling stations overseas.

Despite no official figures being published, some polls suggest that up to three quarters of Venezuelans disapprove of Maduro's presidency. Do they want the armed forces to back congress?

According to the opposition, the formation of the new assembly could be herald dictatorship.

Venezuela's highly controversial President Nicolas Maduro has slammed the opposition referendum. "This vote was made with 14,000 polling stations, when in a normal election there are 45,000", he said at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Maduro's government keeps running out of money as debt payments loom.

Venezuela has been experiencing a period of political instability amid the drastic economic situation in the country. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans lin. Maduro's allies accused the opposition of inflating numbers with multiple voting and false registrations.

Late Sunday, the prosecutor-general issued a statement stating that a shooting at the town of Catia, west of Caracas, had killed Scott and three others outside a voting centre. Opposition leaders said that was because they were able to set up only 2,000 polling places in a symbolic exercise the government labeled as illegitimate.

Some supporters said they were disappointed.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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