Chavez celebrates victory

President Hugo Chavez has been celebrating after surviving a referendum to recall him, but the Venezuelan opposition has complained of a 'big fraud'.

    The Venezuelan president has officially won 58% of the vote

    Fireworks lit up the night sky in Caracas and supporters near the presidential palace roared their approval when electoral authorities announced that Chavez won a referendum by 58% to 42%.

     

    But the Venezuelan opposition has dismissed the numbers, claiming "gross manipulation" of the ballot results.

     

    Chavez, a baseball fan, said he had scored a home run against the US with his victory in a referendum on his mandate, joking from the balcony of the presidential palace in Caracas: "They informed me the ball fell in the centre of the White House."

     

    The Venezuelan leader, who often rails against "imperialist" Washington, has accused US President George Bush of financing the opposition's efforts to drive him from office.

     

    Crying foul

     

    The opposition has rejected the official results, however, claiming there was massive fraud during the voting.

     

    "We categorically reject the results"

    Henry Ramos Allup,
    Opposition spokesman

    "We categorically reject the results," said Henry Ramos Allup, spokesman for the Democratic Coordinator opposition coalition.

     

    Allup said the incumbent got only 40% of the vote, with 59 calling for his mandate to be revoked.

     

    He said the opposition remained determined to seek a peaceful solution and that "not even fraud or gross manipulations like this one will alter our convictions".

     

    A self-proclaimed champion of the poor, Chavez says his opponents are "oligarchs" seeking the restoration of privileges they used to enjoy in the oil-rich but poverty-stricken South American country.

       

    Voting extended 

     

    Venezuelans on Sunday and Monday voted in droves.

     

    Aljazeera's correspondent says
    voter turnout has been massive

    "There has been a massive voter turnout," said Aljazeera's correspondent in Caracas, Dima al-Khatib.

     

    Officials twice postponed the polling stations' closing time, but Chavez himself had said voting centres would stay open as long as citizens were still waiting to vote.

     

    Violence

    One person died and 10 others were wounded after unknown armed assailants fired on people queuing up to vote

    just outside the capital on Sunday.

    Held amid a politically charged atmosphere, the referendum has heightened passions and split Venezuela between pro- and anti-Chavez forces.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.