Hugo Chavez re-elected as Venezuelan president
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has won a fourth term in office after defeating opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
Mr Chavez won 54% of the vote, the country’s electoral council announced.
Noisy celebrations among Chavez supporters erupted across the capital Caracas following the result.
Turnout was more than 80% and voting was extended beyond the official closing time at some polling stations which still had long queues.
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 Capriles congratulated President 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.
He added: “We have planted many seeds across Venezuela and I know that these seeds are going to produce many trees.”
Tears of defeat
Jubilant supporters massed outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas to celebrate.
“I’m celebrating with a big heart – Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America,” said Chavez supporter Mary Reina.
At the Capriles’ campaign headquarters, some opposition supporters were in tears at the news.
Mr Chavez, 58, was diagnosed with cancer last year but says he is now fully recovered.
He has been in power since 1998 and said he needed another six-year term to continue his “Bolivarian revolution” towards socialism.
During his time in office Mr Chavez has nationalised key sectors of the country’s economy.
Venezuela is a major oil producer and high oil prices have allowed his government to fund health-care, education programmes and social housing.
In his campaign, Mr Capriles, who headed a coalition of 30 opposition parties, said the president’s policies had led to bureaucracy, inefficiency and shortages.
Earlier, Defence Minister Henry Rangel Silva said the armed forces had identified some groups planning to cause public disturbances but said violence was “unlikely”.
A week before the election, three opposition activists were killed during a campaign rally, while four people were injured in a shooting during a voting rehearsal in September.
From Saturday evening to Monday evening, the sale of alcohol has been banned and only the security forces will be allowed to carry arms.”