Venezuela’s Legislature Starts Debate on Constitutional Amendment

The National Assembly of Venezuela began the discussion today of the proposed constitutional amendment to Article 230, which would remove a two-term limit on presidential terms, allowing a president to be reelected every six years by popular vote.

By Mike Helbick - Venezuelanalysis.com

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Chavez supporters presented 188 boxes with 4.7 million signatures in support of a constitutional amendment to remove the two-term limit on the presidency. (ABN)
Chavez supporters presented 188 boxes with 4.7 million signatures in support of a constitutional amendment to remove the two-term limit on the presidency. (ABN)
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Carora, December 18, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)-- The National Assembly of Venezuela began the discussion today of the proposed constitutional amendment to Article 230, which would remove a two-term limit on presidential terms, allowing a president to be reelected every six years by popular vote.

Meanwhile, members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) delivered 4.7 million signatures in 188 boxes to the National Assembly in support of the proposed constitutional amendment today. Supporters of President Chávez gathered from all parts of the country in front of the Federal Legislative Palace to turn over the signatures to the National Assembly (AN).

The massive amount of signatures collected this week demonstrate that throughout Venezuela there is a great expectation “to support the proposal of the president of the Republic, Hugo Chávez Frías, and also to support the initiative undertaken by parliament to debate and approve this amendment,” according to Darío Vivas, a member of the National Assembly.

The signatures are actually not needed for the amendment to move ahead, since it is the AN that is promoting it, instead of citizen initiative, as originally proposed by Chávez.

The discussion today, expected to last between five and eight hours, will be presided over by AN President Cilia Flores and is expected to include authorities of the PSUV, regional representatives of the party, leaders, and other members of local campaign offices, local elected officials, and students.

The AN is expected to hold its second and final discussion of the proposed amendment in early January, at which time it will present it to the National Electoral Council (CNE), which will then have 30 days to organize the referendum.  Cilia Flores will meet with directors of the CNE this Friday to discuss the matter.

Tibisay Lucena, President of the CNE, told reporters today, “The CNE is ready to comply with the processes established in the Carta Magna, for the referendum of the amendment, as soon as the National Assembly has formally delivered the request.”

The amendment to article 230 of the Constitution was presented December 9 to the National Assembly by Deputy Earle Herrera.  It was supported by 146 of the 165 deputies.

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