Venezuela’s electoral authorities announced that voters had declined the jurisdiction of the United Nations’ highest court concerning a longstanding territorial conflict with Guyana regarding the oil-rich Essequibo region.
They also supported the formation of what Venezuela’s government describes as a new state whose inhabitants would be given Venezuelan citizenship.
The president of the National Electoral Council, Elvis Amoroso, said the government-endorsed ‘Yes’ campaign won all five questions in Sunday’s referendum with 95% or more of the votes.
Amoroso called it an “an evident and overwhelming victory for the ‘Yes’ in this consultative referendum.”
About 10.5 million votes were cast by Venezuela’s 20.7 million eligible voters, Amoroso said.
It was not clear if he meant 10.5 million votes were cast on each question, or across all five. That’s the difference between turnout of more than 50% and turnout closer to 10%.
There was no organized “No” campaign and opponents were expected to stay home for a non-binding vote.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is currently evaluating the dispute between Venezuela and Guyana but has said it could take several years to reach a ruling.
It appealed to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro days before the vote to “refrain” from any actions that could complicate the case, without mentioning the impending referendum by name.
The vote is non-binding, also for Maduro’s government, and in any case the territory is currently internationally recognized as Guyanan.
But nevertheless, Maduro hailed the results on Sunday evening.
“Today, the people spoke firmly, loudly and clearly and we are going to begin a new powerful era, because we have the mandate of the people, we carry the voice of the people,” President Maduro said at an event celebrating the results.