President Hugo Chavez is celebrating victory in a referendum to end term
limits for elected officials. The president's proposal passed with 54 percent of
votes cast. The measure will allow Mr. Chavez to stay in power as long as he
keeps winning elections.
Chavez spoke to thousands of supporters shortly after the release of results
showing a clear victory for the reform plan. Mr. Chavez had urged people to
support the measure to give him more time in office to carry out his
He said that everyone who voted in favor of
the measure also voted in favor of socialism.
Mr. Chavez dedicated the
vote result to all of Venezuela's children, saying it was a victory for the
future and for socialism.
The reform allows Mr. Chavez to seek
re-election for a third term in a planned 2012 vote. The president has said he
hopes to serve at least until 2018, but it is unclear if wants to remain in
power beyond that date.
Opposition leaders have accused the president of
backing the reform in an effort to cling to power. They note the reform sets
Venezuela apart from all other nations in the hemisphere -- except Cuba - which
impose term limits on top elected officials.
Speaking Sunday, President
Chavez vowed to use the coming years to rebuild many government institutions, to
help them better serve the people.
He said the country needs new
institutions staffed by men and women who are honest and committed to public
Over the past 10 years, Mr. Chavez has redirected significant
portions of government revenue from oil sales into social programs. Scores of
Venezuelans say they have benefited from the education, health and job training
The president said his government has made great achievements
inside the country, and now he hopes to make Venezuela into an international
He said over the next 10 years he will continue strengthening
Venezuela to become an international powerhouse.
Sunday's vote outcome
was a vindication for Mr. Chavez, who lost a December 2007 poll. Voters rejected
a similar proposal on term limits, which was included in a broad package of