8 Oct 2012

Chavez re-elected as president of Venezuela

10:18 pm on 8 October 2012

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has won a fourth term in office, after opposition leader Henrique Capriles admitted defeat.

Mr Chavez won 54% of the vote on Sunday, the country's electoral council announced. Noisy celebrations among Chavez supporters erupted across the capital, Caracas, following the result.

Nearly 19 million Venezuelans were eligible to vote and turnout was high at 81%. Voting had to be extended beyond the official closing time at some polling stations where big queues formed, the BBC reports.

Mr Chavez said the country would continue its march towards socialism, but also vowed he would be a "better president".

Electoral council president Tibisay Lucena announced that with 90% of votes counted Mr Chavez had taken 54.42% of the vote with Mr Capriles on 44.97%.

Mr Chavez, a left-wing politician, came to power in 1998 and now has another six-year term to continue what he calls his socialist revolution.

Before the result was announced, main rival Henrique Capriles, 40, said he would recognise the vote whatever it was.

Mr Chavez, 58, was diagnosed with cancer last year, but said he has now fully recovered.

Colourful character

A colourful and often controversial figure on the international stage, Hugo Chavez has nationalised key sectors of the South American country's economy.

Venezuela, a member of OPEC member, is South America's largest oil producer. High oil prices over the past decade have allowed his government to fund health-care, education programmes and social housing.

Mr Chavez said he needed another term to complete his "Bolivarian Revolution" towards socialism.

However, Henrique Capriles and the opposition said the president's policies have led to bureaucracy, inefficiency and shortages.

They also accused Mr Chavez of authoritarianism and of suppressing the judiciary and silencing critics in the media.