President Maduro Renews Call For Dialogue With Opposition In Venezuela

Fresno residents stand in solidarity with Venezuela protesters

The opposition blamed the attack on "paramilitary groups" linked to the government.

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.

Voters in Venezuela's opposition referendum, which has no legal status, have rejected Maduro's plans for a new Constituent Assembly with the power to scrap the National Assembly and re-write the constitution, BBC News reported citing academics monitoring the poll.

Venezuela is in economic turmoil which the opposition says has been worsened by Mr Maduro, whom they accuse of wanting to create a dictatorship.

Colombia's former President Andres Pastrana, left, embraces Lilian Tintori, left after a news conference of worldwide observers of a symbolic referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 16, 2017.

Venezuelans within and outside the country voted in a symbolic and unofficial plebiscite on Sunday organised by the opposition.

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"I'm calling on the opposition to return to peace, to respect for the constitution, to sit and talk", the president said.

Mr Maduro and military dominate most state institutions, but the Opposition controls Congress and holds three of 23 governorships. Results showed 98.5 per cent of respondents voted in favour of the armed forces protecting the constitution following the decisions of the opposition- controlled National Assembly, which was declared in contempt by the Supreme Court previous year, stripping it of its powers.

People gather for a silent protest outside the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference this past April in Caracas.

Still, turnout fell shy of the 7.7 million votes the opposition earned in the 2015 legislative elections.

Late Sunday Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said on Twitter that he was declaring former Mexican President Vicente Fox persona non grata and banning him from the country for conspiring to promote violence and foreign intervention.

Men on motorbikes opened fire, killing 61-year-old Xiomara Soledad Scott, and wounding three others.

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The woman's death brought to 96 the number of people who have died in almost 100 days of protests, which have left more than a thousand injured.

"Right now we have to escalate and deepen this street movement", National Assembly President Julio Borges told local radio station Exitos ahead of the opposition announcement, which was delayed more than two hours into the early afternoon as the opposition discussed its next steps behind closed doors.

"One particular thing that makes this act unlawful is that they never consulted with the people if they people want to change the constitution".

The political deadlock promises little respite for those suffering in the listing economy of the oil-rich South American nation.

He said some media had passed off photos of government supporters participating in the practice run as if they were opposition sympathisers at their referendum event.

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