Venezuelans overwhelmingly reject Maduro's constitutional efforts

Recounting the votes at one of the polling stations in Caracas on Sunday

Recounting the votes at one of the polling stations in Caracas on Sunday

Venezuelans lined up across the country to vote in an opposition-sponsored referendum meant to reject President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution. "The mandate the people have given us is clear". Instead, he called for an end to the violence, which he blamed on the opposition.

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 called to elect members of the assembly that will rewrite Venezuela's 1999 constitution.

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.

A total of 7,186,170 Venezuelans participated in the unofficial referendum on Sunday despite it not being backed by the government, reports Efe news.

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

A woman has been killed by gunfire that broke out after government supporters on motorcycles swarmed a polling station for an opposition plebiscite in Venezuela's capital Caracas.

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Results showed 98.5 per cent of respondents voted in favour of the armed forces protecting the constitution following the decisions of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which was declared in contempt by the Supreme Court a year ago, stripping it of its powers.

The latest vote appeared to rejuvenate the opposition amid weariness with street protests, but does not augur for a change of government in the short term or a solution to the political stalemate. The opposition has called for a boycott of that vote.

The opposition's unofficial poll attempts to determine what Venezuelans think about key criticisms against Maduro's regime - that Venezuela's institutions, including security forces and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice top court, work in Maduro's favor; that the National Assembly has been stripped of power; and that a majority of Venezuelans support the removal of Maduro as president.

"I'm calling on the opposition to return to peace, to respect for the constitution, to sit and talk", the president said.

Support for Maduro's constituent assembly stands at about 30 percent, while the president's approval rating is 20 percent as the country experiences high inflation and an economic downward spiral, according to pollster Datanalisis.

Borges promised further announcements on opposition strategy during Monday.

Building heat and humidity to fuel heavy storms this week
Afternoon highs reach the low to mid 90s and high dew points will make Thursday & Friday feel closer to 100 degrees. Humidity levels will drop a little Saturday night into Sunday, but jump back up for all of next week.

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

The day was marred by violence when pro-government paramilitary groups attacked voters outside the Our Lady of Carmen Church.

Video on social media showed huge crowds outside the church, then hundreds running in panic as motorcycle-riding men zoomed past and shots rang out.

But Isabel Santander, a 67-year-old retired auditor, said she was voting against the constitutional assembly as a protest against the country's economic collapse.

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

He says the country is the victim of an "economic war" and that opposition protests are an effort to overthrow him with United States connivance, which Washington has denied.

China economic growth steady in second quarter
Analysts had predicted a slight cool-down in the second quarter, to growth of 6.8 percent. "Both are the same old growth drivers". The Chinese economy expanded at a faster pace in the second quarter, with broad measures of economic growth picking up speed.

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