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Henrique Capriles, one of Venezuela’s opposition leading members, has announced he was leaving the coalition.

The former presidential candidate said the move was in protest at the decision by four newly elected opposition governors to pledge allegiance to the constituent assembly.

The Roundtable for Democracy (MUD) regards the constituent assembly as illegitimate.

The MUD governors were elected in regional polls this month in which the government won 18 out of 23 states.

The outcome of the October 15 elections, which the MUD said were fraudulent – and President Nicolas Maduro’s insistence that all new governors bow to the constituent assembly – has caused a rift among members of the opposition coalition.

Image source Flickr

Henrique Capriles Ban: Thousands of Venezuelans March in Protest

Venezuela’s Supreme Court rejects Henrique Capriles’ election appeal

Henrique Capriles demands votes recount after rejecting Nicolas Maduro’s election

On October 24, Henrique Capriles said that he “would not be part” of the opposition MUD “because it is not unity as a concept or a vision”.

“It is just some people that grab the bones that are thrown to them,” he said.

Five MUD governors who won seats opted to boycott a previous event in which 18 newly elected socialist governors were sworn in to the constituent assembly.

However, four of them – the governors for Táchira, Mérida, Nuevo Esparta and Anzoátegui – later changed their stance and pledged allegiance, defying their coalition’s official position.

President Maduro, who has described the election result as a victory, said governors who refused to be sworn in by the constituent assembly would not be allowed to take up office.

The MUD have published what they say is evidence of fraud in the state of Bolívar, where the government candidate was declared the winner after a two-day delay.

Venezuela opposition has set up roadblocks and staged demonstrations demanding elections as the country’s political and economic crisis deepens.

Protesters responded with defiance to President Nicolas Maduro’s call for a new constitution to end unrest that has killed 28 people.

Nicolas Maduro said his move was necessary to fend off a foreign-backed plot against him.

The US said it was a bid to cling to power, while Brazil called it a “coup”.

President Maduro’s opponents want to hold a vote to remove him, blaming the left-wing president for food shortages that have led to rioting.

The president has rejected their calls and issued a presidential decree creating a 500-member “constituent assembly” to rewrite the constitution, a step that would bypass the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Photo Reuters

Nicolas Maduro announced the step to thousands of his supporters at a May Day rally two days ago.

Elsewhere, security forces deployed tear gas and water cannon at anti-government demonstrators.

Opposition leaders have called for a “mega protest” on May 3.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles tweeted: “People, into the streets!

“You must disobey such lunacy!”

There has been widespread international criticism of the move.

The head of the Washington-based Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, called it wrongheaded, unconstitutional and fraudulent.

The US state department spokesman Michael Fitzpatrick told reporters: “We have deep concerns about the motivation for this constituent assembly which overrides the will of the Venezuelan people and further erodes Venezuelan democracy.

“What President Maduro is trying to do yet again is change the rules of the game.”

Meanwhile, Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes called the move a “coup”.

“It’s another step in breaking the democratic order, which contradicts the country’s own constitution,” he said.

In Venezuela itself, in the opposition-controlled National Assembly, lawmakers voted to reject the new body with many saying President Nicolas Maduro was attempting to sideline the legislature and avoid new elections.

Nicolas Maduro was elected in 2013 to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, a popular figure who introduced wide-ranging social welfare programs.

However, since then, falling prices for Venezuelan oil exports have cut government revenue and there have been shortages of food, baby milk, medicine and other basics.

The IMF has forecast that inflation in Venezuela will be above 700% in 2017.

Presidential elections are due at the end of 2018.

Salvează

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has ruled out holding early elections amid calls from opposition groups for him to resign.

In a TV address, Nicolas Maduro said “nobody should get obsessed with electoral processes that are not in the constitution”.

The president’s comment comes a day after the government and opposition groups agreed on a road map to resolve Venezuela’s political and economic crisis.

President Maduro’s term ends in early 2019.

The opposition blames him and his government for the dire state of Venezuela’s economy.

Image source Wikimedia

Image source Wikimedia

Venezuela is suffering from sky-high inflation and there are shortages of many basic goods, including medical supplies.

According to a recent poll, more than three-quarters of Venezuelans are unhappy with Nicolas Maduro’s leadership.

However, an attempt by the opposition to organize a referendum to oust Nicolas Maduro from office has stalled after the Supreme Court ruled that there had been fraud during the early stages of the process.

The move caused outrage among opposition groups which then began to call for early elections as an alternative way to remove Nicolas Maduro from his post.

Speaking on his weekly TV program on November 13, Nicolas Maduro asked: “An electoral way out? Way out to where?”

Negotiators for the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and the government met on November 11 for two days of Vatican-backed talks on how to end the political and economic crisis.

They released a joint statement in which they pledged to “live together in peace” and laid out a road map on how to defuse the situation.

While there was no mention of early elections in the joint statement, opposition lead negotiator Carlos Ocariz later announced that the MUD coalition would stay at the negotiating table only until it obtained early elections or a recall referendum.

After ruling out early elections, Nicolas Maduro mocked Carlos Ocariz’s statement saying that “it makes me very happy that the MUD will continue in the dialogue until December 2018”.

December 2018 is when the next presidential election is due to be held if no early polls are called.

The next round of talks between the opposition and the government is scheduled for December 6.

However, a number of opposition leaders have already called for protests, which had been halted as a sign of goodwill ahead of the talks, to resume.

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Leaders of the Venezuelan opposition have accused the government of staging a coup by blocking their drive to hold a referendum on removing President Nicolas Maduro from office.

Henrique Capriles called for nationwide protests next week.

Election officials had suspended a petition needed to organize the referendum.

The move stopped the recall vote that polls said the government would lose.

Henrique Capriles said the coup “had been carried out against all Venezuelans”.

Henrique Capriles has told a crowd of supporters not to feel intimidated and to vote in upcoming local elections

The opposition figurehead said in the protests, called for October 26: “We will take Venezuela from end to end. The whole people will be mobilized to restore constitutional order.”

Earlier the opposition said a court order had barred eight of them from leaving the country.

Reasons for the ban were not given but the council had said fraud had been reported in the referendum process.

The Venezuelan opposition had planned to secure the required signatures for the recall vote next week.

Another of the banned leaders, opposition coalition leader Jesus Torrealba, said: “It’s gratuitous aggression. We are the majority, in the street and in Congress.

“They cannot postpone the change that the country is demanding.”

The opposition controls Venezuela’s Congress but says Nicolas Maduro has power over key institutions such as the electoral authorities and the courts.

The government has accused the opposition of inventing names on the first of two petitions required to endorse the recall vote.

Nicolas Maduro said there had been “a gigantic fraud”, adding: “Their cheating is coming out.”

Diosdado Cabello, also of Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist Party, said: “We hope justice will be served and that those responsible for this swindle will be detained.”

The decision to suspend the referendum process came despite intense international pressure on President Nicolas Maduro from the US and other Latin American countries to allow it to go ahead.

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According to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, a referendum the opposition is trying to recall him will not take place this year.

There was no time to organize the recall referendum, said Nicolas Maduro.

On June 10 the National Electoral Council (CNE) declared more than 600,000 signatures on a petition for the referendum invalid.

Venezuela’s opposition says the electoral authorities are working alongside the government to derail the process.

Opposition leaders say their signatures on the petition have also been invalidated, revealing the electoral council’s bias.

Former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is among those who say their signatures have been ruled out for “failing to meet the requirements”.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, described the move as “shameful” and “a provocation”.

Nicolas Maduro accused the opposition of fraud and said he would ask the Supreme Court on June 13 to annul the process.

“If they meet the requirements, the recall referendum will take place next year, full stop” said Nicolas Maduro at a rally in Caracas.

“If they don’t meet the requirements, there will be no recall referendum, full stop.”

Timing is essential for both sides. If the referendum is held by January 10, 2017, and President Nicolas Maduro loses, a new election will be called.

If it is held after January 10, 2017, and the vote goes against Nicolas Maduro, his vice-president takes over and remains in power until the end of the presidential term, in January 2019.

The opposition handed over the petition on May 2.Nicolas Maduro mango

It said it had gathered the signatures of 1.85 million voters backing a recall referendum, many more than the 197,000 needed at this initial stage. The CNE said on June 10 there were 1.97 million signatures on the list.

The voters whose signatures have not been struck off by the CNE – more than 1.3 million people – will need to turn up at regional electoral offices to confirm their identities later this month.

They will have five days from June 20 to have their signatures checked, CNE President Tibisay Lucena announced on June 10.

Henrique Capriles urged voters to get ready to comply with the CNE demand and go to government offices to have their identities checked later this month.

Venezuela is in a serious economic crisis, which the opposition blames on mistaken left-wing policies of Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

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1.3 million Venezuelans who signed a petition for a referendum to oust President Nicolas Maduro will need to turn up at regional electoral offices to confirm their identity, the National Electoral Council (CNE) has ruled.

Voters will have five days from June 20 to have their signatures checked.

According to Venezuela’s opposition, the CNE is working in tandem with government to slow down the process.

The opposition blames the government for Venezuela’s serious economic crisis.Nicolas Maduro imposes visas for Americans

The petition was handed over to the electoral authorities on May 2.

The opposition said it had the signatures of 1.85 million voters backing a recall referendum, many more than the 197,000 needed at this initial stage. The CNE said there were 1.97 million signatures.

Nicolas Maduro’s government said there was widespread fraud in the process.

It said the names of thousands of dead voters and children were on the petition, which has been confirmed by CNE President Tibisay Lucena.

More than 600,000 signatures have been invalidated by the electoral bodies.

The other voters who signed the petition will need to have their identities checked between June 20 and 24.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles urged voters to get ready to comply with the CNE demand and go to government offices to have their identities checked later this month.

Tibisay Lucena warned that the process would be immediately suspended until order was restored if there was “any act of violence, trouble or aggression”.

The leader of Venezuela’s opposition, Henrique Capriles, has urged the army to choose whether it is “with the constitution or with [President Nicolas] Maduro”, after a state of emergency was declared.

President Nicolas Maduro has announced a 60-day emergency, giving soldiers and police wider powers to deal with the country’s spiraling economic crisis.

Henrique Capriles said the decree gave the president unconstitutional powers.

The opposition leader called on Venezuelans to ignore it and take to the streets on May 18.

He told reporters: “We, Venezuelans, will not accept this decree. This is Maduro putting himself above the constitution.

“To impose this, he’d better start preparing to deploy the war tanks and military jets.”

“And I tell the armed forces: The hour of truth is coming, to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro,” Henrique Capriles said.

He said the opposition was not calling for a military coup, but instead seeking a legal and constitutional way of ousting Nicolas Maduro through a recall referendum.

The state of emergency is in place for 60 days and can be renewed for another 60.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has rejected Henrique Capriles’ appeal against April's contested presidential election result

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has rejected Henrique Capriles’ appeal against April’s contested presidential election result

The decree was rejected by the opposition-held National Assembly late on May 17, but Nicolas Maduro had indicated that he would not abide by their decision.

At a press conference with foreign journalists in Caracas, Nicolas Maduro said the National Assembly had “lost political validity.

“It’s a matter of time before it disappears,” he added.

Nicolas Maduro also said that the opposition had missed the deadline for the referendum and falsified signatures.

Opposition politicians began the process two weeks ago by handing in a petition signed by 1.85 million people, well above the 1% of voters on the electoral roll needed to kick-start the process.

Venezuela’s constitution says that a referendum will be called to decide if the president remains in power if a second petition is signed by at least 20% of the electorate, or nearly four million people.

However, the government has already made it clear that the referendum will not go ahead.

Nicolas Maduro accused the United States of leading a plot to deploy foreign troops in his country, and force him from office.

He told foreign journalists that a US military plane entered Venezuelan air space twice last week without authorization.

Politicians and media from outside the country have been trying to sow chaos in Venezuela to justify intervention, he said.

“This whole campaign, has a centre. There is an axis: Madrid, Miami and Washington,” he said.

“But there is a centre of planning, of direction, lobbying, strength and funding. That centre is located in Washington.”

Nicolas Maduro promised to fight back and to do everything in his power “to continue winning the battle for internal peace”.

He also made reference to the recent suspension of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to face an impeachment trial.

Nicolas Maduro described the process as a coup, backed by foreign powers.

Venezuela is facing a serious economic crisis, with high inflation and shortage of many basic goods.

Nicolas Maduro accuses Venezuela’s elite of boycotting the economy to achieve its political goals.

The opposition blames the mistaken policies of Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, for the crisis.

Venezuela’s opposition coalition has won a majority of seats in the National Assembly, overturning nearly two decades of dominance by the Socialists of President Nicolas Maduro.

Five hours after polling ended, the National Electoral Council announced the opposition had won 99 seats.

President Nicolas Maduro has admitted defeat, recognizing “these adverse results”.

It is the worst-ever defeat for the leftist movement founded by former leader Hugo Chavez in 1999.

The Socialists have gained 46 seats, with another 22 yet to be declared.

Results arrived much later than expected, five hours after polls closed. Fireworks erupted over the capital, Caracas, soon after.Venezuela elections results 2015

Among the campaign issues were chronic food shortages of staples – such as milk, rice, coffee, sugar, corn flour and cooking oil.

Venezuela has been hit hard by the continuing low price of oil, its main export. It also has the continent’s highest inflation rate.

President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the situation on an “economic war” waged by the opposition.

“We have come with our morals and our ethics to recognize these adverse results, to accept them and to say to our Venezuela that the constitution and democracy have triumphed.

“We have lost a battle today, but the struggle to build a new society is just beginning,” Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s president and head of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, added.

Henrique Capriles, a leading opposition figure in the Democratic Unity Roundtable and a former presidential challenger, tweeted: “The results are as we hoped. Venezuela has won. It’s irreversible.”

Jesus Torrealba, opposition coalition chief, said: “Venezuela wanted a change and that change came. A new majority expressed itself and sent a clear and resounding message.”

The opposition alliance, made up of centrist and conservative parties, is confident of ultimately taking at least 112 seats after 16 years of socialist control.

The results also give stronger momentum to the opposition should it wish to call a referendum on Nicolas Maduro’s future. This could take place only when his presidency reaches its halfway point in April next year.

However, under Venezuela’s presidential system the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will still be a powerful force, as it controls many municipalities.

The next presidential election is due in April 2019.

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling weeks of protests.

Nicolas Maduro opened the talks by shaking hands with his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

The rare meeting, broadcast live on television, was brokered by foreign ministers from South American nations.

Venezuela protests erupted over soaring crime rates in February, but have snowballed into wider anti-government rallies. Some 40 people have been killed.

Nicolas Maduro, who says the protests are part of a “fascist” US-backed plot against him, told the meeting that there would be no deal with the opposition.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling weeks of protests

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling weeks of protests

“There are no negotiations here. No pacts. All we’re looking for is a model of peaceful coexistence, of mutual tolerance,” he said.

The president has said any kind of formal deal with the opposition would make him a “traitor to chavismo”, the socialist platform of his predecessor Hugo Chavez.

Nicolas Maduro called on the opposition to renounce violence.

Henrique Capriles, who was narrowly defeated in last year’s presidential election, insisted that the opposition did not want a coup against the government.

The talks lasted six hours. There will be another round of talks on Tuesday.

Pope Francis sent a letter giving his support to the talks.

“I urge you not to get stuck in the conflict of the moment but open yourselves to one another to become true builders of peace,” Pope Francis said, in a letter read out at the meeting.

Venezuela is sharply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicolas Maduro, who narrowly beat Henrique Capriles to the presidency last year.

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Students and opposition supporters have joined an anti-Nicolas Maduro rally in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.

The government deployed hundreds of government security forces to prevent a crowd banging pots and pans from marching towards the food ministry.

There were similar marches in at least five other Venezuelan cities.

In eastern Caracas, police fired tear gas against protesters trying to erect barricades in the streets.

For a month, demonstrators have been complaining about the high levels of violence and shortages of food staples like bread, sugar, milk and butter.

The authorities say 21 people have been killed in the weeks of unrest.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles told the crowd in Caracas that detained students and others must be released before any talks with the government.

The opposition criticized the heavy security operation put in place by the government to prevent the march from reaching the food ministry.

The government said it wanted to contain the march because it “had not been authorized”.

Venezuela demonstrators complaining about the high levels of violence and shortages of food staples

Venezuela demonstrators complaining about the high levels of violence and shortages of food staples

In the eastern Caracas district of Altamira, National Guardsmen clashed with protesters who were setting up a street block.

At least two people have been injured, according to local newspapers.

Peaceful protests have been reported in the cities of Maracaibo, Isla de Margarita, Puerto Ordaz, Valencia and San Cristóbal .

President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly invited all parties to take part in a “dialogue for peace”.

But during Saturday’s rally, leaders demanded the release of detained students and the suspension of the “repression of the people” before any participation.

Henrique Capriles spoke to thousands of women, students and opposition supporters at the “March of the Empty Pot”, that coincided with the International Women’s Day.

“Let’s transform this protest into the greatest social movement in this country’s history,” Henrique Capriles told the crowd, many banging empty pots as a symbol of the food shortages.

Most of the people supporting opposition protests are reportedly disgruntled Venezuelans from the middle and upper classes.

The opposition leader also repeatedly asked the crowd to refrain from violent acts.

Since February 12, at least 21 people have died in protests, Venezuela’s ombudswoman, Gabriela Ramirez, confirmed on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters in Caracas, Gabriela Ramirez said that members of the security forces were suspects in four cases, 10 allegedly died at street barricades and another five in violent episodes near roadblocks.

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The number of deaths which can be connected to two weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela has risen above 50, President Nicolas Maduro has said.

Official estimates put the number killed in clashes at 13.

Nicolas Maduro has blamed the violence on fascist groups.

The president was speaking ahead of a meeting intended to put an end to the unrest, sparked by anger at high inflation, rampant crime and food shortages.

But the main opposition coalition has refused to attend, calling it a farce.

“We will not lend ourselves to a sham dialogue that would end in a mockery of our compatriots,” the bloc’s vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, told reporters.

The number of deaths which can be connected to two weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela has risen above 50, President Nicolas Maduro has said

The number of deaths which can be connected to two weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela has risen above 50, President Nicolas Maduro has said

On Monday, Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega said 13 people had died in protest-related violence. At the time, opposition groups said the number of dead was at least 15.

Speaking at a pro-government rally staged by farmers outside the presidential palace, Nicolas Maduro said there were “more than 50 dead as a result of road blocks and barricades”.

“Yesterday, an 84-year-old lady died in eastern Caracas because she was held up at a road block for three hours and died in her family’s car of a heart attack,” he said.

He did not further clarify his reasons for giving a steep increase in the death toll.

Elsewhere in Caracas, hundreds of people, mostly women, led by the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez protested against the government’s handling of the demonstrations.

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Police and opposition demonstrators have clashed in Venezuela at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas.

Several people were injured, as police fired tear gas and activists hurled stones in the Altamira district.

Supporters of left-wing President Nicolas Maduro marched in central Caracas and other cities.

Ten people have now died in nearly two weeks of protests, which Nicolas Maduro has called a coup attempt.

Nicolas Maduro says the violence is part of a strategy devised by right-wing groups, with the support of the US, to destabilize his government.

“We have a strong democracy. What we don’t have in Venezuela is a democratic opposition,” Nicolas Maduro told thousands of his supporters in Caracas.

Police and opposition demonstrators have clashed in Venezuela at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas

Police and opposition demonstrators have clashed in Venezuela at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas

Nicolas Maduro was elected last April, following the death of Hugo Chavez, who was in office for 14 years.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who was defeated in last year’s presidential election, led a march in the capital.

He spoke against the arrest, on Tuesday, of fellow opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, accused by the government of inciting violence.

Henrique Capriles called on his supporters to carry on protesting, but to avoid any form of violence.

“There are millions of reasons to protest, there are so many problems, so many people suffering. But his movement we have built must be different,” he said.

The opposition’s main grievances are rampant crime, high inflation and the shortage of many staples. It blames the economic problems on the left-wing policies of the past 15 years.

Opposition demonstrators also took part in marches in western Tachira and Merida states.

The current wave of protests began on 12 February. Three people were shot dead at the end of those marches in Caracas by unknown gunmen.

Daily protests have been held in Caracas for the past 11 days.

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Venezuela’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by opposition leader Henrique Capriles against April’s contested presidential election result.

The Supreme Court of Justice described the appeal as “inadmissible”.

After the ruling Henrique Capriles tweeted that there was a “lack of justice” in Venezuela.

Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor, won the election by less than 1.5 percentage points – about 200,000 votes.

The opposition alleged that the vote had been marred by fraud.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has rejected Henrique Capriles’ appeal against April's contested presidential election result

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has rejected Henrique Capriles’ appeal against April’s contested presidential election result

In June the Venezuelan National Electoral Commission (CNE) confirmed President Nicolas Maduro’s victory in an audit on millions of votes, but Henrique Capriles denounced the audit as “a fake”.

In her ruling on Wednesday, Justice Gladys Gutierrez said the opposition had not offered “sufficient proof” to back up their allegations.

The 10-point appeal had been lodged by Henrique Capriles, the opposition coalition and several citizens.

On Tuesday, Henrique Capriles criticized the court’s delay in making a ruling and said that he would take the case to “international bodies”.

April’s election was called after the death of Hugo Chavez on March 5 following a long battle against cancer.

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Several opposition MP’s are reportedly being injured during a brawl that have broken out in Venezuela’s parliament over the recent disputed presidential election.

Several legislators were left bloodied and bruised, with both opposition and pro-government lawmakers accusing each other of starting the fight.

A measure was earlier passed denying MPs the right to speak until they recognized Nicolas Maduro as president.

Official results show he narrowly beat opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who has demanded a full recount.

The National Electoral Council (CNE) – which has rejected Henrique Capriles’ demand – on Monday said Nicolas Maduro had won by 1.49 percentage points, or fewer than 225,000 votes.

This came after the council had amended the final result, taking into account votes cast abroad.

In all, 99.79% of the votes have now been counted.

Earlier figures had shown a 1.8 percentage victory for Nicolas Maduro, who stood in the poll as the chosen successor of the late President Hugo Chavez.

On Tuesday, the opposition said a number of its lawmakers were attacked and hurt in the parliament – the National Assembly.

One of the MPs, Julio Borges, later appeared on a local TV station with facial bruises.

Opposition deputy Julio Borges appeared on a local TV station with facial bruises after Venezuela’s parliament brawl

Opposition deputy Julio Borges appeared on a local TV station with facial bruises after Venezuela’s parliament brawl

“They can beat us, jail us, kill us, but we will not sell out our principles,” Julio Borges was quoted as saying.

“These blows give us more strength.”

The opposition said it was being “silenced” by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

“I am going to ask you: Mr. Deputy, do you recognize Nicolas Maduro?” Diosdado Cabello asked one of them. “If you say no, you don’t get to speak in the assembly.”

Pro-government representatives blamed the opposition for starting the clashes.

“Today again I had to defend [Hugo Chavez’s] legacy,” lawmaker Odalis Monzon was quoted as saying by Reuters.

She added that she and several of her colleagues were attacked and beaten during the fighting.

The CNE declared President Nicolas Maduro the winner on April 15, after he had gained what it called an “irreversible majority”. He was sworn in as Venezuela’s president on April 19.

Henrique Capriles has demanded a vote-by-vote recount, but the CNE said it would be legally impossible to carry out.

It has, however, agreed to carry out a partial audit, which is expected to take until June. During the audit, 56% of the votes cast will be examined.

The CNE says the remaining 44% had been checked immediately after the election.

On Monday, Henrique Capriles said Nicolas Maduro had “illegitimately stolen the presidency”,

He has until May 6 to lodge his request with the Supreme Court contesting the election result.

Henrique Capriles said he had “no doubt that this will end up before an international body”.

Both Henrique Capriles and Nicolas Maduro have urged their supporters to turn out for separate demonstrations on May 1st, sparking fears the two camps could clash.

Nicolas Maduro on Monday said he had changed the route of his march because he “did not want problems”.

But the opposition says it continues to be targeted by the government, citing the arrest on Saturday of retired General Antonio Rivero as proof.

The opposition politician has been charged with criminal instigation and criminal association, after prosecutors blamed him for outbreaks of post-election violence.

Relatives of General Antonio Rivero say he is on a hunger strike in protest.

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Venezuela’s electoral council has amended the final result of the April 14 presidential election for Hugo Chavez’s successor after finishing counting votes cast abroad.

The council said that according to its latest figures, Nicolas Maduro won the election by 1.49 percentage points, or fewer than 225,000 votes.

Earlier official figures had suggested Nicolas Maduro won by 1.8 percentage points.

Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski has demanded a full recount, which the council has rejected.

Figures released by the National Electoral Council (CNE) on Monday revealed that Henrique Capriles had won 93.13% of the votes cast abroad.

With 99.79% of the votes counted, the margin between the two candidates had narrowed to 1.49 percentage points, it said.

Nicolas Maduro won Venezuela’s election by 1.49 percentage points, or fewer than 225,000 votes

Nicolas Maduro won Venezuela’s election by 1.49 percentage points, or fewer than 225,000 votes

The CNE declared President Nicolas Maduro the winner on April 15, after he had gained what it called an “irreversible majority”. He was sworn in on April 19.

Henrique Capriles has demanded a vote-by-vote recount, but the CNE said it would be legally impossible to carry out.

It has, however, agreed to carry out a partial audit, which is expected to take until June. During the audit, 56% of the votes cast will be examined.

The CNE says the remaining 44% had been checked immediately after the election.

On Monday, Henrique Capriles said Nicolas Maduro had “illegitimately stolen the presidency”.

He has until May 6 to lodge his request with the Supreme Court contesting the election result.

Henrique Capriles said he had “no doubt that this will end up before an international body”.

Supporters and opponents of Nicolas Maduro have also been clashing in Venezuela’s parliament, the National Assembly.

Opposition politicians have complained about being “silenced” by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

“I am going to ask you: Mr. Deputy, do you recognize Nicolas Maduro?” Diosdado Cabello asked one of them.

“If you say no, you don’t get to speak in the assembly.”

Both Henrique Capriles and Nicolas Maduro have urged their supporters to turn out for separate demonstrations on May 1st, sparking fears the two camps could clash.

On Monday, Nicolas Maduro said he had changed the route of his march because he “did not want problems”.

But the opposition says it continues to be targeted by the government, citing the arrest on Saturday of retired General Antonio Rivero as proof.

The opposition politician has been charged with criminal instigation and criminal association, after prosecutors blamed him for outbreaks of post-election violence.

Relatives of General Antonio Rivero says he is on a hunger strike in protest.

Henrique Capriles, the opposition candidate for Venezuela’s presidency, has threatened to take action over disputed votes he claims were “stolen” by Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Henrique Capriles Radonski demanded details of an audit of the vote the electoral council says it will carry out.

He said the council had a “deadline” of Thursday, but did not specify what action he would take.

Nicolas Maduro won the April 14 election by less than two percentage points.

He was sworn in as president last week, succeeding his mentor Hugo Chavez, who died in March of cancer.

Henrique Capriles has threatened to take action over disputed votes he claims were "stolen" by Nicolas Maduro's government

Henrique Capriles has threatened to take action over disputed votes he claims were “stolen” by Nicolas Maduro’s government

But the opposition cried foul, and tensions in the divided country have reached fever pitch, with the government accusing the opposition of fomenting coup attempts and the opposition accusing the government of “desperate lies”.

Nine people died in post-election protests and both the government and opposition are planning more protests on 1st of May.

Henrique Capriles says the vote was marred by thousands of irregularities, including voter intimidation, and has demanded a full recount.

The national electoral council (CNE) offered an electronic audit of the vote last week, to begin this week, but says Nicolas Maduro’s victory remains “irreversible”.

It has so far failed to give any details of the audit and on Wednesday Henrique Capriles said he would wait only until Thursday.

“We will not accept a joke audit,” Henrique Capriles said at a news conference.

“It’s time to get serious.”

Henrique Capriles repeated his accusations that Nicolas Maduro had manipulated poll results, telling a news conference: “The truth – and it is as big as our country is wide – is that you stole the election. That is the truth.

“You stole this electoral process, and you have to explain that to this country and to the world.”

The government, meanwhile, accuses the opposition of stirring up the post-election violence in a bid to engender a coup, and the government-controlled National Assembly has now announced a commission to investigate whether Henrique Capriles was responsible.

Pedro Carreno, who will head the commission, dubbed Henrique Capriles a “murderer” as he announced its formation – joining the National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello, who has called him a “fascist murderer”.

Prisons Minister Iris Varela, meanwhile, has said a jail cell awaits Henrique Capriles.

Media coverage of the post-election violence has been at odds, with state media describing pro-opposition mobs torching health clinics but opposition media saying many reports of the violence were fabricated.

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Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in as Venezuela’s new president, succeeding the late Hugo Chavez who died of cancer last month.

Thousands gathered on the streets of Caracas to show their support for Nicolas Maduro and to celebrate independence.

The inauguration ceremony follows a decision by the electoral body to carry out a full audit on all of the votes cast in Sunday’s disputed presidential poll.

Nicolas Maduro beat opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski by 1.5% of the vote.

Henrique Capriles, who believed there were voting irregularities, says he accepts the electoral audit.

Opposition supporters were expected to protest against Nicolas Maduro’s inauguration by banging on pots and pans, and playing salsa music.

Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in as Venezuela’s new president, succeeding the late Hugo Chavez who died of cancer last month

Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in as Venezuela’s new president, succeeding the late Hugo Chavez who died of cancer last month

Dozens of leaders from across the region (including Brazil, Cuba and Colombia), Iran and some Arab countries attended the ceremony.

Henrique Capriles made an appeal for peaceful protests in a bid to avoid further violence after clashes left seven people dead on Monday.

The National Electoral Council’s decision to audit all the paper receipts of electronic votes is seen as a major concession to the opposition.

The council had earlier audited 54% of the vote and said this showed that Nicolas Maduro, the chosen successor of the late President Hugo Chavez, had won a slim majority.

The official count indicates Nicolas Maduro won 50.8% of votes to Henrique Capriles’s 49.0%.

Henrique Capriles said he believed the crucial votes that cost him the presidency are among the unaudited 46% of the vote.

He said there were more than 3,000 incidents from Sunday’s poll that needed to be examined.

Correspondents say the announcement comes as a surprise to many after the electoral body initially said the results, which it announced on Sunday night, were “irreversible”.

The council’s president, Tibisay Lucena, told AFP news agency that the expanded audit was not a recount but would cover all ballot boxes not audited on election day by reviewing a sample two-thirds of them over the next month.

Venezuela uses electronic voting machines which register an elector’s decision and then emit a printed receipt for the voter to deposit into a sealed ballot box. For the audit, the receipts will be compared with the electronic tallies, to check for any irregularities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cuban leader Raul Castro were among the first heads of state to congratulate Nicolas Maduro on his win.

The governments of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Argentina, among others, have also voiced their backing for Nicolas Maduro’s victory.

But the US has so far refused to recognize Nicolas Maduro’s win, calling for an audit of the results.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was not yet ready to validate the results of Sunday’s poll.

Several opposition-led protests erupted across the country after the official results were announced on Sunday.

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Nicolas Maduro has been formally proclaimed by Venezuela’s election authority as the winner of Sunday’s closely-fought presidential election.

The National Electoral Council backed the slender victory of Nicolas Maduro, the acting president, despite protests from opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

The official count indicates Nicolas Maduro won 50.7% of votes to Henrique Capriles’ 49.1%.

Following the announcement, clashes broke out between protesters and police in the capital Caracas.

Police fired tear gas at hundreds of students demonstrating in one part of the city, while elsewhere opposition supporters took to their balconies and the streets to bang pots and pans in protest.

Nicolas Maduro has been formally proclaimed by Venezuela's election authority as the winner of Sunday's closely-fought presidential election

Nicolas Maduro has been formally proclaimed by Venezuela’s election authority as the winner of Sunday’s closely-fought presidential election

Henrique Capriles had earlier urged national protests and a march on the electoral offices in the capital in the event that Nicolas Maduro was declared the winner.

He called on the National Electoral Council not to confirm the election result, citing voting irregularities, and demanded a recount.

Henrique Capriles said he regarded the election of Nicolas Maduro as “illegitimate”.

The poll was called after President Hugo Chavez died of cancer last month.

Nicolas Maduro is a former bus driver who rose to become Hugo Chavez’s vice-president and heir apparent.

Henrique Capriles said there were more than 3,200 “incidents” from Sunday’s poll that needed to be examined.

“All we’re asking is that our rights be respected, that the will of the people be respected, and that every single vote be counted, every little piece of paper,” he told a news conference broadcast on national television.

But while it has agreed to an audit of the electronic counting system, the government is rejecting calls that the ballot boxes be opened for a manual recount.

Monday saw opposition students briefly invade a hotel where international election observers are staying, demanding to know why the vote had been declared free and fair.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cuban leader Raul Castro were among the first heads of state to congratulate Nicolas Maduro on his win.

But the US has called for an audit of the results.

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Henrique Capriles Radonski, the defeated Venezuelan presidential candidate, has demanded a recount of votes, rejecting the election of Hugo Chavez’s successor as “illegitimate”.

Henrique Capriles, 40, said there were more than 300,000 incidents from Sunday’s poll that needed to be examined.

However, the electoral authorities said Socialist Nicolas Maduro would be confirmed as the winner.

Nicolas Maduro has called for the results to be respected.

The National Electoral Council is due to formally proclaim Nicolas Maduro’s victory at a ceremony and rally in Caracas later on Monday.

Henrique Capriles Radonski, the defeated Venezuelan presidential candidate, has demanded a recount of votes, rejecting the election of Nicolas Maduro

Henrique Capriles Radonski, the defeated Venezuelan presidential candidate, has demanded a recount of votes, rejecting the election of Nicolas Maduro

The election was called after Hugo Chavez’s death from cancer last month.

Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver whom Hugo Chavez had named as his preferred heir, won 50.7% of the vote against 49.1% for Henrique Capriles.

The National Electoral Council said the results, which it announced on Sunday night, were “irreversible”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cuban leader Raul Castro were among the first heads of state to congratulate Nicolas Maduro on his win.

Meanwhile the US has called for an audit of the results.

“This appears an important, prudent and necessary step to ensure that all Venezuelans have confidence in these results,” a White House spokesman said.

As the news of Nicolas Maduro’s victory emerged, celebrations erupted in the capital, Caracas.

Thousands of jubilant supporters took to the streets, dancing, singing and blasting car horns, while fireworks lit up the night sky. Opposition voters banged pots and pans in protest.

Speaking outside the presidential palace, Nicolas Maduro told crowds that the result was “just, legal and constitutional”.

He said his election showed Hugo Chavez “continues to be invincible, that he continues to win battles”.

Nicolas Maduro, who was wearing a tracksuit top in the colors of the Venezuelan flag, said he had spoken to Henrique Capriles on the phone, and that he would allow an audit of the election result.

He called for those who had not voted for him to “work together” for the country.

Nicolas Maduro’s margin of victory was far narrower than that achieved by Chavez at elections last October, when he beat Henrique Capriles by more than 10 percentage points.

Almost immediately, one member of the National Electoral Council who does not have government sympathies called on the authorities to carry out a recount by hand, a call later echoed by Henrique Capriles himself.

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Socialist Nicolas Maduro has won a narrow victory in Venezuela’s presidential being officially elected as the successor of the late leader Hugo Chavez.

Nicolas Maduro won 50.7% of the vote against 49.1% for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.

Henrique Capriles has demanded a recount, saying Nicolas Maduro was now “even more loaded with illegitimacy”.

The opposition candidate said there were more than 300,000 incidents from Sunday’s poll that would need to be examined.

The electoral commission said the results were “irreversible”.

Socialist Nicolas Maduro has won a narrow victory in Venezuela's presidential being officially elected as the successor of the late leader Hugo Chavez

Socialist Nicolas Maduro has won a narrow victory in Venezuela’s presidential being officially elected as the successor of the late leader Hugo Chavez

When the results were announced at 23:15 local time, celebrations erupted in the capital, Caracas, where Nicolas Maduro’s jubilant supporters set off fireworks and blasted car horns. Opposition voters banged pots and pans in protest.

In a victory speech outside the presidential palace, Nicolas Maduro, wearing the colors of the Venezuelan flag, told crowds that the result was “just, legal and constitutional”.

He said his election showed Hugo Chavez “continues to be invincible, that he continues to win battles”.

Nicolas Maduro said he had spoken to Henrique Capriles on the phone, and that he would allow an audit of the election result.

The former Venezuela’s vice president, who was hand-picked by Hugo Chavez as his successor, called for those who had not voted for him to “work together” for the country.

However, Nicolas Maduro’s margin of victory was far narrower than that achieved by Hugo Chavez at elections last October, when he beat Henrique Capriles by more than 10%.

At Henrique Capriles’ campaign headquarters the mood was sombre, as his supporters watched the results on television. Some cried, while others hung their heads in dismay.

Shortly afterwards, Henrique Capriles emerged, angry and defiant.

“It is the government that has been defeated,” he said.

Then, addressing Nicolas Maduro directly, Henrique Capriles said: “The biggest loser today is you. The people don’t love you.”

Nicolas Maduro had been serving as acting president since Hugo Chavez died of an unknown type of cancer on March 5.

He is due to be sworn in on April 19 and serve until January 2019 to complete the six-year term that Hugo Chavez would have begun in January.

Hugo Chavez was a divisive leader. To his supporters he was the reforming president whose idiosyncratic brand of socialism defeated the political elite and gave hope to the poorest Venezuelans.

He effectively used his country’s vast oil reserves to boost Venezuela’s international clout, and his strident criticism of the US won him many political allies in Latin America.

However, Hugo Chavez’s political opponents accused him of being an autocrat, intent on building a one-party state.

Hugo Chavez bequeaths a nation beset by crumbling infrastructure, unsustainable public spending and under-performing industry.

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Venezuela is voting in new presidential election, called after the death of Hugo Chavez last month.

Venezuela’s Acting President Nicolas Maduro, chosen by Hugo Chavez as his successor, is running against Henrique Capriles Radonski, currently governor of Miranda state.

Henrique Capriles narrowly lost to Hugo Chavez in elections last October.

On the eve of polls opening, he accused Nicolas Maduro of breaking election laws by continuing its campaign on state television.

Electoral authorities say voting has been going smoothly. Security had been stepped up for the vote.

Nicolas Maduro, 50, whose campaign has focused on his close relationship to Hugo Chavez, was shown visiting the tomb of the late leader, a move Henrique Capriles, 40, said was “violating all the electoral norms”.

Both candidates have to some extent broken the media silence they are supposed to have maintained since campaigning officially ended on Thursday.

Almost 19 million Venezuelans have the right to vote in the poll.

Venezuela’s Acting President Nicolas Maduro, chosen by Hugo Chavez as his successor, is running against Henrique Capriles Radonski, currently governor of Miranda state

Venezuela’s Acting President Nicolas Maduro, chosen by Hugo Chavez as his successor, is running against Henrique Capriles Radonski, currently governor of Miranda state

Nicolas Maduro cast his vote in the Catia area of the capital Caracas, accompanied by Hugo Chavez’s two daughters. Henrique Capriles voted in the Las Mercedes district of the capital.

Hundreds of election monitors are present from different countries and international organizations to ensure the poll is free and fair.

The vote is electronic – one machine will identify voters’ fingerprints, and a second will recognize identity card numbers and register the vote anonymously.

Polls will stay open until all those queuing at closing time have voted.

Official results are expected about three hours after the polls close.

Both presidential candidates wrote on Twitter early in the morning.

Nicolas Maduro invited Venezuelans to vote to guarantee the future and the perpetual peace of their country.

Meanwhile opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said: “The big day is here!” and used a hashtag urging people to “vote without fear”.

Former President Hugo Chavez died on March 5, after a two-year battle against an undisclosed type of cancer, prompting a short electoral campaign period before Sunday’s elections.

The winner is due to be sworn in on April 19 and serve until January 2019, to complete the six-year term that Hugo Chavez was supposed to have begun in January.

Hugo Chavez was a divisive leader. To his supporters he was the reforming president whose idiosyncratic brand of socialism defeated the political elite and gave hope to the poorest Venezuelans.

He effectively used his country’s vast oil reserves to boost Venezuela’s international clout, and his strident criticism of the US won him many political allies in Latin America.

However, Hugo Chavez’s political opponents accuse him of being an autocrat, intent on building a one-party state.

Hugo Chavez bequeaths a nation beset by crumbling infrastructure, unsustainable public spending and under-performing industry.

His handpicked candidate Nicolas Maduro is seen as the front-runner, but recent polls suggested the gap between him and his rival was narrowing.

Nicolas Maduro:

  • Named by Hugo Chavez as preferred successor; currently Venezuela’s acting president
  • Served as vice-president and foreign minister under Hugo Chavez
  • Former bus driver, lifelong socialist and trade unionist

Henrique Capriles Radonski:

  • Trained as a lawyer, currently governor of state of Miranda
  • Gained 44% of vote against Hugo Chavez in 2012 elections
  • Describes policies as “centrist” and cites former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as inspiration

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Members of the Venezuelan opposition have made an official complaint against the government following allegations that it broke the law by continuing its electoral campaign on state television.

Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro appeared on TV visiting the tomb of Hugo Chavez on the eve of the election.

The opposition candidate Henrique Capriles said his opponent was “violating all the electoral norms”.

On Saturday, he launched an internet channel to broadcast his own campaign.

Despite this, Henrique Capriles said he had been “respecting the electoral rules, but those in power don’t know anything other than the abuse of power”.

Almost 19 million Venezuelans will have the right to vote on Sunday for a successor to Hugo Chavez.

Henrique Capriles has made an official complaint against Venezuela’s Acting President Nicolas Maduro for breaking the electoral law

Henrique Capriles has made an official complaint against Venezuela’s Acting President Nicolas Maduro for breaking the electoral law

Voting will be electronic – one machine will identify voters’ fingerprints, and a second will recognize identity card numbers and register the vote anonymously.

Polls will open at 06:30 local time and close 10 hours later, although they will stay open until all those queuing at closing time have voted.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez died on March 5, after a two-year long battle against an undisclosed type of cancer, prompting a short electoral campaign period before Sunday’s elections.

The winner is due to be sworn in on April 19 and serve until January 2019, to complete the six-year term that Hugo Chavez would have begun in January.

Hugo Chavez’s handpicked candidate Nicolas Maduro is seen as the front-runner, but recent polls said the gap between him and his rival, Henrique Capriles, was narrowing.

Both sides staged massive rallies to mark the official end of their campaigns on Thursday.

But since 2002, Hugo Chavez’ supporters have staged celebrations on April 13, the date when the late leader returned to power after a brief coup in 2002.

Venezuelan state television showed Nicolas Maduro visiting the tomb of the late leader, accompanied by the Argentine football star Diego Maradona, who also took part in Maduro’s final rally on Thursday.

“Let’s honor his [Hugo Chavez’s] memory, his legacy,” Nicolas Maduro told Venezuelans in a speech at the tomb.

An interview with the acting president about the short-lived 2002 coup was also broadcast.

On Friday, members of the opposition campaign said they had lodged an official complaint with the Electoral Commission.

Henrique Capriles also complained on Twitter, saying VTV was “shamelessly breaking the electoral rules”.

For his part, Nicolas Maduro said on the micro-blogging site that there was an alleged “dirty war” being plotted against him from Colombia’s capital, Bogota.

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Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has confirmed that he will stand in presidential elections on April 14.

In a televised address, Henrique Capriles accused the governing PSUV party of manipulating the recent death of President Hugo Chavez.

Hugo Chavez died on March 5 after a two-year battle against cancer.

Henrique Capriles will stand against Acting President Nicolas Maduro, whom Hugo Chavez named as his favored successor.

Nicolas Maduro went on state television minutes after the opposition leader’s appearance, accusing him of being a “fascist”.

Correspondents say the stage is now set for a bitter presidential campaign.

The opposition boycotted Nicolas Maduro’s swearing-in on Friday, claiming that – under the constitution – the speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, should be the one to take over as acting president.

Henrique Capriles – candidate for the umbrella opposition group Table for Democratic Unity (MUD) – called the move fraudulent.

On Sunday, he again accused the socialist PSUV of violating the constitution.

“My fight is not to be president, my fight is for Venezuela to move forward,” he said.

“You [the PSUV] are the ones who became sick by power. You fear losing it.”

Henrique Capriles added: “I am going to fight. Nicolas, I am not going to give you a free pass. You will have to beat me with votes.”

Henrique Capriles, 40, is a lawyer by training and governor of the state of Miranda. He describes his policies as “centrist” and “humanist”.

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has confirmed that he will stand in presidential elections on April 14

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has confirmed that he will stand in presidential elections on April 14

In his televised address on Sunday, Nicolas Maduro accused Henrique Capriles of inciting hatred, and said he was trying to provoke violence by insulting the late president’s image.

“You have made the biggest mistake of your life,” he said.

Nicolas Maduro announced that he would ask the national assembly to change the constitution on Tuesday to allow Hugo Chavez’s body to lie beside that of 19th Century South American revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar.

Both Nicolas Maduro and his opposition rival must register their candidacies by Monday.

Hugo Chavez – who led Venezuela for 14 years – won last October’s election against Henrique Capriles, polling 54% of the vote to Capriles’s 44%.

Hugo Chavez named his 50-year-old vice-president and foreign minister as his preferred successor following the recurrence of cancer.

Nicolas Maduro’s friendship with Hugo Chavez dates back to when the former president served time in prison for an attempted coup in 1992.

The former bus driver campaigned for Hugo Chavez to be released – which happened two years later.

He has vowed to carry on where the late leader left off but acknowledged that Hugo Chavez would be difficult to follow.

Nicolas Maduro told a crowd on Saturday: “I am not Chavez – speaking in terms of the intelligence, charisma, historical force, leadership capacity and spiritual grandeur of our comandante [commander].”

Hugo Chavez’s body is still lying in state at a military academy in the capital Caracas. Millions of Venezuelans have filed past to pay their respects.

Nicolas Maduro says the former leader’s body will be embalmed “like Lenin and Mao Zedong”.

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Venezuela’s presidential election to replace late leader Hugo Chavez will be held on April 14, the country’s electoral commission has said.

The announcement follows the appointment of Hugo Chavez’s favored successor, Nicolas Maduro, as acting president.

Hugo Chavez died on March 5 after a long battle with cancer.

Nicolas Maduro will run as the governing party candidate with Henrique Capriles expected to stand for the opposition.

Hugo Chavez – who led Venezuela for 14 years – won last October’s election against Henrique Capriles, polling 54% of the vote to Capriles’s 44%.

As Hugo Chavez’s health worsened, he announced that his vice-president, Nicolas Maduro, should succeed him.

Nicolas Maduro, 50, has pledged to carry on the former president’s leftist policies and opinion polls have shown him as the favorite to win the next election.

The head of the electoral commission, Tibisay Lucena, said the candidates would have to register for the race by Monday.

Shortly after his announcement, the head of the opposition coalition officially proposed Henrique Capriles, 40, as their presidential candidate.

Nicolas Maduro will run as the governing party candidate with Henrique Capriles expected to stand for the opposition

Nicolas Maduro will run as the governing party candidate with Henrique Capriles expected to stand for the opposition

Henrique Capriles tweeted that he was grateful to be chosen, adding that he was analyzing the statement from the electoral commission.

“In the following hours I will give my decision,” he said.

Henrique Capriles – a lawyer by training – is governor of the state of Miranda.

He describes his policies as “centrist” and “humanist” and says his political inspiration is former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who courted businesses and investors while also developing social programmes.

Despite the outpouring of grief and affection for Hugo Chavez, whose lavish state funeral was held on Friday, the opposition believe they have a chance of winning the election.

Millions of Venezuelans have filed past his coffin as it continues to lie in state in a military museum in Caracas.

Nicolas Maduro has announced that the former leader’s body will be embalmed “like Lenin and Mao Zedong”.

The opposition boycotted Nicolas Maduro’s swearing-in on Friday, saying that it was unconstitutional.

It argued that – under the constitution – the speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, should be the one to take over as acting president.

Henrique Capriles called the move fraudulent.

The opposition further argues that, according to the constitution, the election should be held within 30 days of Hugo Chavez’s death. The date picked falls outside that period.

Meanwhile, Acting President Nicolas Maduro held one of his first diplomatic appointments on Saturday when he had a private meeting with the Chinese delegation that attended Friday’s state funeral.

He told the Chinese representatives that Beijing “can count with the Bolivarian government, with the people of Venezuela to deepen the strategic alliance that our two countries have”.

Nicolas Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega later visited the military academy where Hugo Chavez is lying in state.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died aged 58, after 14 years in power.

Hugo Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, undergoing several operations in Cuba.

Crowds of supporters gathered outside the Caracas hospital where he died, chanting “We are all Chavez!”

A self-proclaimed revolutionary, Hugo Chavez was a controversial figure in Venezuela and on the world stage. A staunch critic of the US, he inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America.

Following Hugo Chavez’s death, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is held within 30 days, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.

“It is the mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us,” Elias Jaua told state television, adding that Nicolas Maduro would also be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).

Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday

Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday

It was not immediately clear when the election would take place.

Hugo Chavez’s illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he was re-elected for a fourth term in October.

The exact nature of Hugo Chavez’s cancer was never officially disclosed, leading to continuing speculation about his health, and he had not been seen in public for several months.

Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whom Hugo Chavez defeated in October’s election, called on the government to “act in strict accordance with its constitutional duties”.

Henrique Capriles offered his condolences to Hugo Chavez’s family, saying “we were adversaries, but never enemies”.

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