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Chavez to seek new six-year mandate

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has vowed to win re-election next year, saying his struggle with cancer is helping to strengthen his political movement.

Mr Chavez said in a telephone call on state television that his illness has boosted his resolve ahead of the 2012 vote.

"I think my sudden and grave, well, delicate illness has been a test," Mr Chavez said. "What I smell in the revolutionary ranks is more unity in the government, commitment."

Mr Chavez, who earlier this month appealed for unity before travelling to Cuba for cancer treatment, also said he does not see any divisions in the military.

"The Armed Force is there demonstrating firmness, loyalty, strength," Mr Chavez said in his call to an evening talk show.

Some analysts have suggested divisions could grow among Mr Chavez's allies if his illness worsens.

"This revolution is continuing onward... and I will remain at the front," Mr Chavez said. "I don't have any doubt that I'm going to be the candidate, and I don't have any doubt that the people are going to re-elect me president from 2013 to 2019."

Mr Chavez extended that timeframe in an interview published in the government newspaper Correo del Orinoco, saying: "I'm resolved to reach 2031."

The leftist president has been in office since 1999 and is seeking another six-year term. He has suggested in the past that he hopes to keep winning re-election to remain president for many years to come. He has vaguely mentioned various dates, ranging from 2021 to 2031.

A poll released last week said Mr Chavez's public approval rating remains at 50% and has not significantly varied since his cancer diagnosis.


From Belfast Telegraph