Millions vote in Venezuela poll

Riots in Venezuela

Fresno residents stand in solidarity with Venezuela protesters

Results of the unofficial referendum organized by Venezuela's opposition showed that 98.4 percent of the voters reject the formation of the National Constituent Assembly to change the Constitution. NPR's Philip Reeves notes that number - which includes almost 700,000 expatriots who voted overseas - constitutes about a third of Venezuela's registered voters.

He added that Maduro was elected president in 2013 with fewer votes than were cast in this consultation. "But these seven million people spoke, and it was plenty".

Venezuela is polarised between backers of President Nicolás Maduro and opponents, who want fresh elections.

The opposition wants new elections before Mr Maduro's term expires in early 2019 and say rewriting the constitution would nearly certainly delay this year's regional elections and next year's presidential election.

Canada and Mexico were among the countries that issued statements Sunday evening lauding the opposition vote.

In Venezuela, the polling station closed at 7 PM, but the voting didn't end in a peaceful manner. "I think it's going to embolden the global community to reject it".

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

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 chief prosecutor's office said Xiomara Soledad Scott, a nurse, had been killed and four others wounded.

Maduro made no mention of the incident in comments on state television shortly after the official close of opposition polls at 4 p.m., but he called for an end to violence that he blamed on the opposition.

Calling it "a hymn to peace", Maduro said the people of Venezuela through their extensive participation in the constituent electoral process have shown that the way to solve the country's problems is through peace. "Let's start a new round of talks, of dialogue for peace".

She says the lack of safety was acute and the main reason she escaped from her homeland, which was in the capital of Caracas.

"Our president Chavez supported the poor, the people", said Yveth Melendez, a 41-year-old homemaker waiting outside a school in the south Caracas neighborhood of El Valle, a stronghold of government support that has been weakening in recent years.

"Today we awoke stronger. The constitutional assembly is something that benefits the people".

"It's part of a series of measures taken by the opposition that have had no impact on Maduro's strategy so far", said Panizza.

"If they're forcing us, it isn't democracy", Madriz said. Nearly all of the answers were related to the "yes" "He said when confirming the voters' rejection of the Constituent Assembly". Basic necessities, such as medicine and food, are in short supply. "There's no separation of powers, no freedom of expression".

Maduro held his own rehearsal vote for the constituent assembly on Sunday, which may have dented turn out for the opposition's referendum as more than two million state workers were encouraged to attend. Many fear this will give the socialist president a chance to further weave the socialist party into the country's governing and administrative fabric.

The opposition called backers to 2,000 sites across the country to fill out ballots featuring three yes-or-no questions.

"We don't want a fraudulent Constituent Assembly imposed on us". They also voted for the armed forces to defend the current constitution. "The results seem to confirm that the opposition would easily defeat the government in any election".

It's good to remember that the oil-rich nation is facing a humanitarian crisis.

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