Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won the presidential elections Sunday with a comfortable margin beating his young challenger Henrique Capriles and extending his 14 years of rule to another six-year term.
With 90 percent of the votes counted, the 58-year-old incumbent received 54 percent of the votes cast, news agencies reported citing Venezuela’s national electoral council. Capriles, the former governor of Miranda state, won 45 percent, the council said.
“Thank you, my God, thank you to everyone,” Chavez wrote on Twitter after the results were announced. “Thanks to my beloved people!! Long live Venezuela!!!!”
Jubilant supporters thronged the streets of Caracas to celebrate Chavez's victory who had been receiving cancer treatment in the run up for the election. Capriles’ campaign headquarters saw opposition supporters breaking into tears, Reuters reported.
Chavez's self-styled socialist government pours billions of dollars in Venezuela’s oil revenues to food subsidies and state-funded social programs, but has been battling with issues like national housing crisis, power shortages, alarming surge in crime rate, inflation and weakening economy.
The socialist, anti-imperialist leader who has been in power since 1999 has aligned his country with U.S. opponents like Russia, Iran and Belarus.
Notwithstanding the tumultuous relationship between Venezuela and the U.S., Chavez had earlier voiced his support for U.S. President Barack Obama over his Republican rival Mitt Romney for the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
He had also suggested that if he and Obama won their respective re-elections, both nations, which don’t have their ambassadors in each others’ capitals, “could begin a new period of normal relations.”