Global

Fatal attack at Venezuela poll

Fatal attack at Venezuela poll

Observers said more than seven million Venezuelans have overwhelmingly supported the opposition's unofficial referendum, which partly rejects President Nicolas Maduro's attempt to rewrite the Constitution.

The 7.6 million people who participated in Sunday's event was just under 7.7 million opposition votes in the 2015 legislative elections, that it won by a landslide.

In Venezuela, the opposition et up a non-binding straw poll to let people share opinions about the Maduro administration's plan to elect a National Constituent Assembly that will overhaul the 1999 constitution.

Meanwhile, the opposition praised the vote as proof that Venezuelans demand democratic change.

Men on motorbikes opened fire, killing 61-year-old Xiomara Soledad Scott, and wounding three others.

"They (MUD) have a quiet consultation today (.) I tell them not to go insane, we make a call for them to return to peace, to sit down and talk, to begin a new cycle of dialogue for peace", said Maduro during a telephone interview with the state-owned Venezolana de Television.

The commission of university rectors informed that after computing the 95 percent of the vote tabulation sheets a total of 7,186,170 of voters had rejected the Constituent Assembly of Maduro in the consultation that took place outside the formal electoral system.

Most Venezuelans oppose the government's Constituent Assembly, which will have power to rewrite the constitution and annul the current opposition-led legislature, but Maduro is pressing on regardless for the vote in two weeks' time.

And NPR's Greg Allen says that sentiment extends to Venezuelans living in the U.S. One expatriot, Mario Di Giovanni, tells Greg that while the vote isn't official, the process is supported by Venezuela's constitution.

The symbolic plebiscite was aimed at denting Maduro's legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis that has left millions struggling to eat and months of anti-government unrest that has killed almost 100 people.

In smaller numbers in many parts of the capital, government supporters went to polling stations in a rehearsal for the July 30 vote.

Separately, journalist Luis Olavarrieta was kidnapped, robbed and beaten by what he said was a a group of government supporters, but managed to escape. The court nullified eight of the assembly's laws between January and October 2016, after making just one such ruling in the previous 200 years, legal experts say. They also see the special assembly as another means by which Maduro will further consolidate power.

"We must be aware of the differences we have in the country, we must resolve them with peace, with votes and not bullets, with tolerance, with democracy", continued Maduro.

"The ruling Socialist Party can not win a free and fair election of any kind, and the Constituent Assembly is created to resolve their collective electability problem by tilting the electoral playing field in one direction", Eurasia consultancy said.

Polls indicate many Venezuelans support neither the opposition nor the socialist government installed by late President Hugo Chavez.

The questions were approved by the National Assembly (Congress), which is controlled by an opposition majority, with a view to having a popular endorsement of its next actions against the Government. More than 500 protesters and government opponents have been jailed.

Venezuela has been plagued by daily outbursts of anger over food shortages and an economic crisis characterised by rampant inflation.


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