Hugo Chavez celebrates re-election in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has hailed a “perfect victory”, after defeating Henrique Capriles to secure a fourth term in office. Mr Chavez won 54% of the vote, the electoral council announced, with turnout at about 81%, BBC informs.Brandishing a replica of the sword of independence hero Simon Bolivar, he pledged Venezuela would continue its “march towards democratic socialism”.But he also vowed to engage opponents and to be a “better president”.Noisy celebrations among Chavez supporters erupted across the capital, Caracas, following the announcement of the result.Mr Chavez addressed them from the balcony of the presidential palace.“Truthfully, this has been the perfect battle, a democratic battle. Venezuela will continue its march toward the democratic socialism of the 21st century.” But Mr Chavez also accepted that there had been a significant opposition vote, reducing his victory margin from 27 points in 2006 to just 10 points over Mr Capriles.Almost all of the votes have now been counted, with Mr Chavez securing 54.66% to Mr Capriles’ 44.73%.Mr Chavez said: “I extend from here my recognition of all who voted against us, recognition of their democratic weight.” He praised the opposition for recognising the election result, and said he was “stretching out my hands and heart on our behalf because we are brothers in Bolivar’s homeland”. He also invited to dialogue all those he said were “sowing hatred and social venom”. Mr Chavez recognised his new government would need “to respond with greater efficacy and efficiency to the needs of our people”, adding: “I promise you I’ll be a better president.”Jubilant Chavez supporters held impromptu street parties in central Caracas, blaring horns and waving flags.“I’m celebrating with a big heart – Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America,” said Chavez supporter Mary Reina.Construction worker Edgar Gonzalez said: “I can’t describe the relief and happiness I feel right now. The revolution will continue, thanks to God and the people of this great country.”At the Capriles’ campaign headquarters, some opposition supporters were in tears at the news. Mr Capriles congratulated Mr Chavez but told opposition supporters not to feel defeated.“I want to congratulate the candidate, the president of the republic,” he said at his campaign headquarters.

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