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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with deputies of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV) and ministers at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, in this handout picture provided by Miraflores Palace on January 22, 2016

    Venezuelan President Urges Peaceful Conduct of Opposition’s Referendum

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    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has agreed to the opposition’s referendum, which will take place later on Sunday, and urged the nationals to peacefully participate in the event amid the ongoing political crisis in the country.

    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) — The opposition’s referendum will question the legitimacy of the National Constituent Assembly, called by Maduro, and the need for the elections in Venezuela. However, the country's National Electoral Council said that results of the referendum will not have legal force as only the electoral authorities have the right to hold such events. The opposition in response referred to Article 71 of the constitution, which allows holding consultative surveys.

    “Please, hold your internal referendum of the right-wing parties, very well, but I urge the Venezuelans to peacefully take part in the planned political events, with respect to the ideas and peace,” Maduro said on Saturday, as quoted by the NTN24 broadcaster.

    The president urged the Venezuelan nationals to take part in the rehearsal of election to the National Constituent Assembly, which will take place in parallel with the opposition’s referendum.

    “We will not allow any external interference in the affairs of Venezuela, we are ready to defend the motherland from imperialism, nothing will prevent the elections to the constituent assembly to take place,” Maduro said, as quoted by the broadcaster.

    Venezuela has been experiencing a period of political instability for a long time because of the drastic economic situation in the country. The most recent protests erupted in April after the country's Supreme Court tried to take over legislative powers from the opposition-controlled National Assembly. The top court reversed the ruling but the step did not stop the mass demonstrations.

    In May, Maduro announced his decision to call the National Constituent Assembly, which was regarded by the opposition as an attempted coup and resulted in further escalation of tensions that resulted in the deaths of over 90 people.

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    Tags:
    referendum, protests, opposition, Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela
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