Alyaksandr Lukashenka on October 8 hailed Hugo Chavez’s victory in Venezuela’s presidential election and tasked his administration with increasing cooperation with that country in all areas, according to the presidential press office.
"I don’t know about you, but I had a sleepless night because of the Venezuela election," the press office quotes the Belarusian leader as saying. "I’m very happy about the victory of our friend, Hugo Chavez. I should say he is worthy of praise. Even we have something to learn from this election. That was an outright victory. And the main alternative candidate has conceded defeat. This move is really valuable as well. It reveals the strength of that man."
Mr. Lukashenka noted that a message of congratulations would soon be sent to the Venezuelan leader on behalf of the Belarusian people. "We contacted the election headquarters of Chavez this night and congratulated him," he said. "There should be warm congratulations from the Belarusian people to this heroic man, because winning under such circumstances means great trust."
"I think we’ll have to step up our activities in Venezuela in all areas," Mr. Lukashenka said. "We should help Hugo Chavez respond with good to the Venezuelan people. This means a big piece of work and certain benefit for us. That’s why it’s necessary for the Presidential Administration to look into these matters." The 58-year-old Chavez was reelected as president in Sunday's election for a fourth term. He reportedly won some 54.7 percent of the vote against 44.7 percent for his main rival Henrique Capriles, with voter turnout at about 81 percent.
While addressing his supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace, Mr. Chavez acknowledged that there had been a significant opposition vote, with his victory margin decreasing from 27 points in 2006 to just 10 points this time.
"Truthfully, that was a perfect battle, a democratic battle," he said. "Venezuela will continue its march toward the democratic socialism of the 21st century."