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An overwhelming majority of Venezuelans voted in favor of incorporating a large area of neighboring Guyana into Venezuela in a referendum Sunday that has stoked tensions between the two South American nations over a long-running territorial dispute, CNN reported.

The referendum centered on the disputed territory of Essequibo, an area comprising around two-thirds of Guyana that Venezuela alleges was stolen when the border was drawn more than a century ago.

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council said more than 95 percent said “yes” to each of the five questions asked in the referendum. For example, voters were asked whether they agreed to create a Venezuelan state in the Essequibo region, provide its population with Venezuelan citizenship and incorporate “that state into the map of Venezuelan territory.”

Caracas has long claimed the area as its own due to its historical inclusion in its boundaries during the Spanish colonial period. It rejects an 1899 ruling by international arbitrators that established the current border between Venezuela and Guyana – the latter a British colony until 1966.

Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro has cast the referendum as anti-imperialist, but Guyana has criticized it as a step towards annexation and an “existential threat.”

Before the vote, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Venezuela to refrain from “taking any action which would modify the situation that currently prevails in the territory in dispute.”

The world court plans to hold a trial on the case in spring, even though Caracas does not recognize the ICJ’s jurisdiction on the issue.

The situation has prompted concerns across the region, resulting in troop movements between the two countries and leaving many Guyanese on edge.

Questions remain about how Venezuela will proceed following the vote’s results, with analysts saying any attempt to assert claim over the territory will be met with international resistance.

Meanwhile, others noted that Maduro stands to gain politically from the vote as he is facing a tough re-election campaign ahead of next year’s presidential polls.

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