Caracas, Oct 9 (IANS/EFE) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Monday tweeted that he had held a “pleasant telephone conversation” with defeated electoral rival Henrique Capriles.
“Believe me: I’ve held a pleasant telephone conversation with Henrique Capriles! I invite National Unity, respecting our differences!” Chavez said on Twitter a day after winning another term.
The leftist incumbent won Sunday’s contest by a margin of 55 percent to 44 percent.
The deputy leader of Chavez’s party, National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello, emphasized at a press conference Monday that the opposition acknowledged the results of the election.
“We want to acknowledge the sectors of the opposition that have accepted with much consideration for the country and with much responsibility what occurred here yesterday,” he said.
Chavez, who has been in office since 1999 and has been battling cancer for more than a year, now stands to be in office until 2019.
Turnout for the election was 80.94 percent, the National Elections Council, or CNE, said.
Capriles mounted a strong campaign that raised great expectations, putting Chavez against the ropes for the first time in 14 years.
Capriles, who ran as the sole opposition candidate, took many votes away from Chavez, who managed to pull off his fourth consecutive win since 1998, when he introduced Latin America to his “Socialism for the 21st Century” model of government.
The president has undergone surgery for cancer three times in the past year, with his illness kept under tight secrecy despite his recovery.
Chavez went out on the balcony of the Miraflores Palace as soon as the election results were released, addressing the tens of thousands of supporters who gathered outside.
The president thanked his supporters and said the win was a “perfect victory”.
“This has been a memorable day, that is why I thank you from the bottom of my heart and ask God to give me life and health,” the 58-year-old Chavez said.
Chavez laid out his plans for Venezuela, telling supporters that the country would never again be at the mercy of neoliberalism.
“This has truly been, as we had been saying during the past few months, the perfect battle … Thanks to God and thanks to the conscience of our people, there were no incidents today to regret, nothing to stain the perfect battle and the victory of Venezuela,” Chavez said.
The president won 20 of Venezuela’s 23 states plus the Capital District.
Capriles conceded defeat before a group of supporters and congratulated Chavez.
“A project that has been going for 14 years should assume and understand that nearly half the country is not in agreement with this option that today remains in power,” the 40-year-old Capriles, who lost for the first time in his career Sunday, said.
“I am calling on those who remain in power for respect, consideration and the recognition that nearly half the country is not in agreement with this government,” Capriles said.
“Those more than 6 million Venezuelans, nearly half the country, are not alone,” he said.