Chavez says referendum to determine his "political fate"
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that the constitutional referendum on the unlimited re-election of the country's president is decisive for his own political future, dpa reported.
"I come here before the Venezuelan people, very conscious that here today (Sunday), at the polling stations, among many other things that are a lot more important, my political fate is being decided upon, and that for me, as a human being, as a soldier in this fight, is very important," he said after casting his vote in western Caracas.
Chavez noted that the will of the people will triumph in the referendum, and he asked that all sectors of society respect "the sovereign will of the people."
If the proposed constitutional amendment is approved, Chavez will be able to stand for re-election in December 2012. If the reform does not pass, he is set to govern until February 2013 and will not be able to seek election for another term.
"Let nobody start making up misconceptions to take us down the road of violence and fear. We have said that and we have proved that: we will recognize the result whatever it is," Chavez stressed.
Close to 17 million Venezuelans are registered to vote Sunday, and people started voting early. The process was simple enough to prevent the formation of long queues at polling stations.
Polling stations were set to close at 6 pm (2230 GMT).