Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Monday that he would “abide by the mandate of the people” in a referendum vote to claim sovereignty over oil and mineral-rich territory in neighboring Guyana that they say was stolen when the borders were established more than a century ago.
“The people’s mandate is sacred, the people’s voice is God’s voice and yesterday it was realized on December 3. “That is the task I will take on as head of state,” he said.
Venezuela’s electoral authorities on Monday officially announced that all five questions in a referendum to claim sovereignty over most of neighboring Guyana had been approved by a majority.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government argues that the oil and mineral-rich region was stolen when borders were drawn more than a century ago.
The National Electoral Council (CNE) informed Venezuela’s president that after counting 98.16 percent of the vote, the “yes” vote was won by a majority, each of which received more than 95 percent of the vote.
Elvis Amoroso, CNE Council President, said more than 10,431,907 Venezuelans participated in the referendum, without specifying the percentage of abstainers.
About 20.6 million Venezuelans over the age of 18, who are registered in the country, have the right to vote.
It is still unclear how Maduro will carry out the results of the vote.
However, Guyana views the referendum as a step towards annexing the territory, and the vote has left its citizens on edge.
The Venezuelan government promoted the referendum for weeks, viewing participation as an act of patriotism, and often equating it with support for Maduro.
The country has always considered Guyana its own, as the region was within its borders during the Spanish colonial period. Venezuela has long disputed the borders decided by international arbitrators in 1899, when Guyana was still part of a British colony. (ns/rs)