Venezuela's opposition basks in "referendum" success but gov't casts doubts

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-18 13:13:12|Editor: Liangyu
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CARACAS, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) announced on Monday that it was "zero hour" for the government of President Nicolas Maduro, as National Assembly President Julio Borges spoke of a "scaling-up of pressure."

Borges was speaking one day after the MUD held an unofficial referendum to protest Maduro's attempt to rewrite the constitution through a National Constituent Assembly (ANC), which will be elected on July 30.

"In this phase comes the pressure, the escalation, the materialization of the reasons for which people voted ... yesterday. The world and the government must listen to a cry from an entire country," said Borges.

According to data from the MUD, 7.1 million people voted against the ANC on Sunday.

The referendum asked the Venezuelan people three questions: Whether they support or not Maduro's call for the ANC? Whether they support the constitution of 1999 which Maduro is seeking to change? Whether officials in public office should be replaced?

"If he (Maduro) tries to go against the referendum yesterday, he will be the one leading to more conflict and violence," claimed Borges.

However, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) dismissed the results and accused the MUD of vote tampering.

During a press conference, Jorge Rodriguez, former vice-president and current mayor of Caracas, denied that the MUD had received the votes it claimed.

Rodriguez called the referendum a "gigantic fraud" which sought to "renew violence" in the country.

He said the Venezuelan opposition obtained only 2,395,390 favorable votes, but multiplied this by three, leading to their announced result of 7,186,170 votes.

Rodriguez accused the MUD of trying to perpetrate "a huge fraud against the Venezuelan people" by inflating the numbers.

"There was a gigantic scam on all the people of Venezuela," he said. "Over 5 million votes are missing to complete these false numbers ... We have proof of this."

Also on Sunday, the government held a simulation of the July 30 vote for the ANC, which the executive hopes can end the country's political crisis.

Violent protests have claimed 96 lives over the last three months.