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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 16:44 GMT
Chavez named presidential victor
Chavez supporters in Caracas (5 December)
Supporters wore red, mimicking Mr Chavez's "Red, really red" slogan
President Hugo Chavez has been declared the winner of Venezuela's presidential election in a ceremony in the capital.

Mr Chavez received nearly 63% of the final vote, 25 points ahead of his main rival, Manuel Rosales.

Addressing supporters in Caracas, he said there would be complete freedom of expression and political participation during his next six-year term.

He praised his opponents for accepting defeat, and said his win showed support for a radical turn towards socialism.

"Those who voted for me didn't vote for me. They voted for the socialist plan, to build a profoundly different Venezuela," Mr Chavez said.

"The path of this republic is a revolution, a democratic revolution, a social revolution, a political revolution, an economic revolution," he said.

The final results showed Mr Chavez won 7.2 million votes out of about 12 million cast. During his campaign, he said he aimed to poll 10 million votes.

'Ready and willing'

US Ambassador William Brownfield congratulated Venezuelans on a peaceful ballot, and voiced Washington's willingness to seek a less fractious relationship with Mr Chavez.

Hugo Chavez on election day
I want to salute the responsible opposition... It was time they assumed the attitude of true democrats
President Hugo Chavez

"The president was re-elected by the decision of the Venezuelan people," Mr Brownfield said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

"We recognise that and we're ready, willing and eager to explore and see if we can make progress on bilateral issues."

While the US is the most voracious consumer of Venezuelan oil, tensions have often precluded dialogue between the two nations.

Mr Chavez accuses Washington of backing a 2002 coup against him and has referred to President George W Bush as "Mr Danger" and "the devil".

President Chavez - who won elections in both 1998 and 2000 - triumphed after a campaign in which he characterised his rival as a lackey of the US.

Mr Chavez has vowed to boost the social programmes that have won him support among millions of impoverished Venezuelans.

He is also expected to reform the Venezuelan constitution to remove limits on how many times he can be re-elected, enabling him to run again in 2012.

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