Incumbent President, Hugo Chavez, has won Venezuela’s tightly-contested presidential elections, clinching a fourth term with over 54 per cent of the vote, according to the National Electoral Council.
With more than 90 per cent of the ballot counted, election officials claim Chavez has won beyond doubt, with rival Henrique Capriles managing just 44,97 per cent of the vote.
“Thank you God! Thank you to everyone,” Chavez said on his Twitter account.
Chavez will take office for a six-year term beginning February 2013.
The election appears to have seen an impressive turnout, with Tibisay Lucena, the National Electoral Council president, stating 81 percent of nearly 19 million registered voters, cast ballots.
(Photo from twitter.com user @PresidencialVen)
Capriles has congratulated Chavez on his victory and told followers not to feel defeated. “We have planted many seeds across Venezuela and I know that these seeds are going to produce many trees,” he told supporters in a speech late Sunday, AP reports.
Joyful crowds of Chavez supporters cheered as the results were announced. Fireworks have been heard around the capital, Caracas. “Absolutely incredible. Everywhere I look fireworks are going off. The city won’t sleep tonight,” RT’s Lucy Kafanov tweeted from the Venezuelan capital.
Some regional leaders have already congratulated the president-elect with Bolivian leader, Evo Morales – a personal friend of Chavez – saying on his Twiiter feed, “Your victory is also ours. It is of South America and the Caribbean. Congratulations President Chavez!” Cuban President Raul Castro was also among the first to congratulate Chavez, the freshly-reelected leader told the audience in a speech.
Addressing to his supporters, Chavez pledged: “Venezuela will never return to neoliberalism, it will continue transition to the democratic socialism of the 21st century!”
The post-election night turned into a big party for Chavez supporters. Some of them went over the top, riding motorbikes and drinking too much alcohol, reports RT’s Lucy Kafanov. Venezuelan riot police have been deployed to prevent possible violence, she says.