Page last updated at 02:37 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Key step to Chavez term law vote

President Chavez delivers the state of the union address on 13 January
Mr Chavez has tried before to remove the limits on presidential terms

Venezuela's national assembly has approved a constitutional amendment to remove presidential term limits.

The amendment, which applies to all elected officials, must be approved by a referendum within 30 days, a vote correspondents say is set to be close.

President Hugo Chavez urged a change in the law in his annual address on Tuesday.

He said it would be dangerous to remove a captain from his ship halfway through the voyage.

The measure is Mr Chavez's second attempt at seeking unlimited re-election. A similar referendum was defeated in late 2007.

The constitutional amendment will now be presented to the national election board, which will convene the referendum, thought likely to be in mid-February.

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