Caracas, July 18 (IANS) The Venezuelan President has called to establish “a great national peace agreement” following an opposition referendum in which more than 7.5 million citizens voted against the government’s plan to rewrite the constitution.
“Despite the senselessness of the Venezuelan opposition, I reaffirm my call for peace dialogue, for political dialogue, for my absolute readiness to continue the talks that have begun and to bring about a great national agreement on peace, work, and prosperity,” Nicolas Maduro said on Monday at the Presidential Palace here.
The President, who claimed to have taken on the title of “world champion of peace”, reiterated his calls to hold talks with the opposition alliance, Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) despite the “fraud, bad intention” and “perversity” of the group.
Maduro said he was willing to talk and warned the opposition that time was ticking away.
Following the referendum on July 16, several countries in the region, the European Union (EU) and the US have asked Maduro to withdraw his plan for the National Constituent Assembly, which was approved without a previous referendum.
More than 7.4 million of the total 7.54 million voters said yes to the three questions raised in the poll: they rejected the Constituent Assembly, they wanted armed forces to abide by the decisions of the National Assembly and protect the current Constitution, and they wished new elections to be called and a national unity government to be established.
The referendum called by the opposition was conducted without the participation of the Electoral Power, so there were no voter registrations.
In addition, eligible voters were limited to all citizens over 18 years old, the only requirement to be allowed to vote, according to local legislation.
According to data released in 2017 by the National Electoral Council (CNE), which did not recognise the validity of the referendum, about 19.5 million citizens are eligible to vote in Venezuela.