CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Sunday he has received warnings from within the White House that the Bush administration is plotting to assassinate him or topple his left-leaning government.
Citing what he said were warnings from an alleged White House informant, Chavez told thousands of supporters at a campaign rally that President Bush has ordered him to be killed before he leaves office in 2008.
Bush "has said that before he goes, Hugo Chavez shouldn't be the president of Venezuela," Chavez told the crowd. "The president of the United States has said it, especially in recent days. What he doesn't know is that I have friends in the White House."
The Venezuelan leader has claimed before that the U.S. government is out to kill him — allegations that U.S. officials deny.
The latest accusation came a day after he alleged that there had been a recent attempt to assassinate him and said those responsible had since fled to neighboring Colombia.
Chavez appeared to link the alleged plot to his main rival in upcoming presidential elections, Gov. Manuel Rosales of Zulia state, claiming that he is in constant danger from opponents seeking to get rid of him.
He said a sniper had waited with a long-range gun and planned to shoot him after he debarked a helicopter, he said. He did not elaborate further on the alleged plot.
Chavez vowed to win the Dec. 3 vote and continue governing this South American nation until 2021. "Fourteen more years, that's what's coming," Chavez said.
Venezuela's Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. If Chavez wins a second six-year term in December, he wouldn't be able to run again in 2012 — without a legal change.
Chavez has floated the possibility of changing Venezuela's constitution to allow indefinite re-election.