Venezuela to hold referendum on Chavez term Feb 15

January 17th, 2009 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Caracas, Jan 17 (IANS) Venezuela will hold a referendum Feb 15 to decide whether to remove limits on the re-election of President Hugo Chavez and other elected officials, EFE news agency reported Saturday, citing officials.The head of Venezuela’s CNE elections council, Tibisay Lucena, made the announcement a day after lawmakers approved the amendment proposal brought by Chavez supporters.

A fiery critic of the US, Chavez was first elected in 1998 and has since won two more elections and defeated a recall attempt, each time by a wide margin. But under the present rules, he now is barred from seeking re-election again in 2012.

Announcing the date of the referendum, Lucena, said the poll would be “clean, transparent and reliable”. Campaigning for the referendum would begin Saturday and conclude at midnight Feb 13, the official added.

The proposal to hold the referendum was passed in the National Assemby Wednesday, thanks to an opposition boycott of the most recent congressional elections and most of the members of the 167-assembly being Chavez loyalists.

The constitutional amendment promoted by Chavez has aroused the ire of opposition parties who denounce it as “trickery” and accused the socialist president of trying to to perpetuate himself in power.

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