By Nestor Rojas Mavares (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Some 7.18 million Venezuelans voted Sunday against the Constituent Assembly promoted by President Nicolas Maduro to reform the country’s Constitution, in a popular consultation organized by the opposition, according to data provided by the organizers.
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.
The rector of the Central University of Venezuela, Cecilia Garcia Arocha, delivered the figures of the participation, which must be submitted to a subsequent audit to rule out any double vote.
“With 95 percent of the votes counted we have 7,187,170 voters who participated,” she said, adding that 6.4 million of the votes were in the country while 693,789 Venezuelans cast their ballots abroad.
“Denying the large participation in the consultation is not living in Venezuela. Everyone saw the long lines of voters. The people expressed themselves and told the Executive what they want: they want peace. Almost all of the answers were related to the ‘yes’ “He said when confirming the voters’ rejection of the Constituent Assembly.
The Venezuelans who participated in the plebiscite answered three questions. One pointed to the rejection of the Constituent Assembly convened by Maduro; Another, asked if the Bolivarian National Armed Forces were “required to obey and defend the Constitution”; And the last one, inquired whether they supported a renewal of public powers and the formation of a Government of national unity.
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.
The manual votes were collected in cardboard boxes with the motto
Written: “The people decide”.
Benjamin Scharifker, another university rector, said that the “yes” overwhelmingly dominated the consultation in all three questions, with 98.4 percent of the votes received against the Constituent Assembly.
The president of the National Assembly, the opponent Julio Borges, said after the announcement that today Venezuela said “yes” to a country without violence, a country of progress united and in freedom.
“We have received a clear mandate of 7.1 million to be sure that we will achieve a democratic change. We will honor that cry that Venezuela gave,” he said.
He added that Maduro was elected president in 2013 with fewer votes than were cast in this consultation.
“That was the fear they had of a recall referendum and for that reason prevented it,” he said about the vote that was requested by the opposition and obstructed by judicial measures last year.
“This is why the government does not want to hold any more elections. This vote was made with 14,000 polling stations, when in a normal election there are 45,000,” he said at the end of the day.
Earlier, the government declared former Mexican President Vicente Fox a persona-non-grata after he participated as an observer in the opposition consultation.
Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said that Fox “will not enter Venezuela anymore because it is considered undesirable,” due to comments he made about the Venezuelan government during the day.
The so-called plebiscite was organized outside the formal electoral system, so its results were rejected in advance by the government, which faces a wave of protests that continues after over 100 days and has left almost a hundred dead.