Venezuelan VP says turnout "massive" for constituent vote

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-31 03:04:58|Editor: Yurou Liang

People wait to vote during the election of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) at a polling station in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 30, 2017. All the polling stations for electing members to the National Constituent Assembly in Venezuela opened at 6:00 a.m. local time (1030 GMT) on Sunday, despite opposition-led protests against the move. (Xinhua/Boris Vergara)

CARACAS, July 30 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelans turned out in large numbers to vote for a constituent assembly to amend the constitution, Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Sunday.

"The people have turned out en masse to exercise this fundamental human right, this right that shows Venezuelans' civic spirit (and) commitment to building a country in a peaceful and democratic way," El Aissami told reporters, after casting his vote in central Aragua state.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. for elections to choose the members of a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) to debate and amend the Constitution, an initiative proposed by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to resolve the political crisis and rejected by the opposition as an attempt to consolidate his power.

Caracas-based news network Telesur posted photos on its website that showed large crowds or long lines at polling stations in different parts of the country.

The coalition of conservative opposition parties, known by its Spanish acronym MUD, contested reports that turnout was robust, posting images of abandoned streets outside what it alleged were polling stations on Sunday.

According to El Aissami, voting was proceeding smoothly, except for an "isolated incident" in Tachira state that authorities brought under control. He gave no further details.

He also called Sunday's vote "a turning point towards a Venezuela with equality (and) social justice."

Despite the opposition calling on its supporters to defy a ban against anti-government demonstrations, there were no reports of major disturbances, according to electoral officials.

However, pockets of violent protest continued to break out in certain areas.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said, "I can say that the entire country is completely calm at this time, except for certain outbreaks of violence against strengthening democracy through elections."

At least one person was reportedly killed as part of protests on Sunday.

Ricardo Campos, 30, died in the northeast state of Sucre, the General Prosecutor's Office said on Twitter.

An opposition legislator, Deputy Henry Ramos Allup, identified Campos as a youth opposition leader for the conservative Democratic Action (AD) party, and said he died of a gunshot near his home.

The ban on protests was in place from July 28 to August 1.

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