11:50 GMT +319 November 2017
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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017

    Venezuelans Vote Against Maduro’s Constituent Assembly at 'Popular Referendum'

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    Most of the Venezuelans, who participated in the opposition’s so-called popular referendum on Sunday, voted against the decision of President Nicolas Maduro to call for the Constituent Assembly without gaining the support of the nation.

    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) — The referendum was mainly directed against Maduro’s decision to call the National Constituent Assembly in May, which was regarded by the opposition as an attempted coup and resulted in further escalation of tensions and deaths of over 90 people. The Venezuelan president agreed to allow the referendum, but urged its participants to behave peacefully.

    According to the so-called commission of guarantors, consisted of the rectors from Venezuela’s leading universities, almost 6,4 million people or over 98 percent voted against the Constituent Assembly, while 7.2 million people took part in the referendum.

    Venezuela's population is estimated at over 31 million people.

    The vote was organized by the opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD). The ballots included three questions on whether the voters reject and do not recognize the presidential decision to call the Constituent Assembly without gaining the support of the Venezuelans, whether the voters demand the country's Armed Forces to protect the 1999 constitution and the decisions of the National Assembly, as well as whether they agree on holding free elections and creating a national unity government.

    According the Venezuelan opposition, more than 2,000 polling stations opened across the country. The Venezuelans were also able to cast their ballots in 85 foreign countries.

    The country's National Electoral Council said that results of the referendum would 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.

    Venezuela has been experiencing a period of political instability amid 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 mass demonstrations.

    Related:

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    Constituent Assembly, Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela
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