updated 1/14/2009 10:12:49 PM ET 2009-01-15T03:12:49

Venezuelan lawmakers have approved proposed amendments to the constitution that could allow President Hugo Chavez run for re-election indefinitely.

The amendments must still be approved by voters in a referendum before going into effect.

Allies of Chavez have a strong majority in the National Assembly. Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Wednesday in favor of lifting term limits for all elected officials, including the president. Six lawmakers voted against the proposal while five abstained.

Chavez is barred from seeking re-election in 2012.

Voters handed Chavez his first defeat at the polls last year when they rejected constitutional reforms that would have scrapped presidential term limits, among other changes.

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