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Posted: 8/15/2007 9:11:24 PM EDT
i hope this isnt a dupe

Venezuela head outlines changes
Giant Chavez balloon outside National Assembly
Chavez says he is supported by the "immense majority"
President Hugo Chavez has announced plans to change to Venezuela's constitution, allowing him to stand for office indefinitely.

Under the current rules, Mr Chavez would have to step down at the end of his term in 2012.

His plans would also increase presidential control over Venezuela's municipalities and states.

Mr Chavez has rejected criticism of the proposals, saying they would bring "new horizons for the new era".

Other changes include:

* Removing term limits for the presidency, and extend the term of office from six years to seven
* Bringing in a maximum six-hour working day
* Strengthening state economic powers, allowing the government to control assets of private companies before a court grants an expropriation order

The president set out his plans in a speech to the National Assembly, which is expected to approve them within several months.

The plan would then be put to a national referendum.

President Chavez told the Assembly his proposals only affected 10% of the constitution.

'Great battle'

Thousands of government supporters converged on Venezuela's National Assembly, carrying banners reading "Yes to the reform, on the path to 21st Century Socialism".

Pro-Chavez rally outside National Assembly, 15 August 2007
Chavez supporters gathered outside the National Assembly

Inside, Hugo Chavez began by paying tribute to Simon Bolivar - the man who fought for Venezuela's independence 200 years ago.

He said Bolivar was the inspiration for his political dream.

Mr Chavez has promised structural changes to get rid of corruption - something he described as a cancer, says the BBC's James Ingham in Caracas.

He said now was the era of "people power" and not the power of the oligarchy - a word he uses to describe past governments.

In a television interview prior to his address, the president said that he believed the "immense majority" of the people would back his plan, but predicted a "great battle" with the opposition.

"The Venezuelan opposition, without exception, is ... aligned with the interests of the empire," he said, referring to the United States.

Since being re-elected last year, the Venezuelan leader has stepped up a programme of nationalisation of sectors including energy and telecommunications.

He pushed through a new constitution in 1999, shortly after he was first elected. Under it presidents are limited to serving two successive six year terms.

He says the charter must be redrafted in order to steer Venezuela away from capitalism and build a socialist state.

His opponents fear that Mr Chavez is seeking to become a lifelong leader and could abuse his power.

But, in his speech to the National Assembly, the president said: "We know it is not like that. I doubt there is any country on this planet with a democracy more alive than the one we enjoy in Venezuela today."
Link Posted: 8/16/2007 11:17:52 AM EDT
Those paying attention saw this coming from a long way off.
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