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Chavez Backs Off Up-or-Down Vote on New Constitution

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will seek to break up 69 proposed changes to the constitution into separate blocks for voter approval, abandoning an earlier plan to put them all into a single up-or-down ballot.

While he still supports a single vote on his initial ideas -- such as eliminating term limits for the president and cutting the work day to six hours -- changes added by the National Assembly, such as guaranteeing gay rights, cutting the voting age to 16 and eliminating due process in states of emergency, may be best voted on separately, he said today in a speech.

``These proposals could well be voted on in blocks, as the constitution requires,'' Chavez said at an event celebrating the anniversary of his state-sponsored women's organization.

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