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Voters in Venezuela referendum support annexation of Guyanese territory

Voters in Venezuela on Sunday rejected the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) jurisdiction over the country's territorial dispute with Guyana and backed the creation of a new state in the potentially oil-rich Essequibo region in Sunday's referendum.
 
This would mean annexation of this vast landmass, which for more than a century has been recognised as Guyana's sovereign territory. 
 
The court this week barred Venezuela from taking any action which would change the status quo in the area, which is the subject of an active case before the ICJ, but President Nicolas Maduro's government went ahead with a five-question "consultative" referendum.
 
All questions passed with more than 95% approval, according to electoral authority president Elvis Amoroso, who said at least 10.5 million votes were cast for 'yes' but did not confirm the number of voters.
 
Some political and security analysts have called the referendum a show of strength by Maduro and a test of support for his government ahead of a planned 2024 presidential election.
 
The court said in April that it had jurisdiction, though a final ruling on the matter could be years away. 
 
Venezuela has said the issue should be resolved by the two countries.
 
Late last night Maduro cheered what he called the "total success" of the vote.
 
At issue is a 160,000 square km region that is mostly thick jungle. 
 
Venezuela reactivated its claim over the territory in recent years after the discovery of offshore oil and gas.
 
 


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