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Venezuelan opposition warns of consequences from referendum postponement

Facing a recall referendum, Venezuela's president has called for a delay until next year. Opposition politicians warn this could create a "zone of turbulence."

The Venezuelan opposition party, Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), has warned that postponing a pending presidential recall referendum could have dire consequences.

The party's executive secretary Jesus Torrealba said pushing the referendum to next year – a proposal submitted to the Supreme Court by President Nicolas Maduro – could bring the country into "a zone of turbulence."

Venezuelan opposition groups have led a nationwide campaign to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro out of office, collecting over 1.8 million signatures to formally start the recall process.

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Since he took office in 2013, the South American nation has suffered an economic implosion resulting in severe shortages of food, electricity, medicine and other basic products.

However, citing a number of collected signatures that have been deemed invalid by the National Elections Council (CNE),

Maduro has vowed to push the referendum back to next year

if all legal requirements are met, a move which would allow his vice president to assume the presidency. However, a vote this year would automatically prompt new elections.

MUD has accused Maduro of colluding with the CNE to postpone or even block the referendum entirely.

US Secretary of State John Kerry

on Tuesday called for the Venezuelan government to "honor its own constitutional mechanisms" by allowing a "fair and timely recall referendum."

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez shot back at Kerry's comments during the general assembly, saying: "Venezuela's internal matters will be settled by Venezuelans."

"I see now this is ordered by Washington. I know they are on Washington's payroll to meddle in the domestic affairs of Venezuela," Rodriguez said, in an apparent reference to opposition lawmakers.

mz/kl (dpa, EFE)

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