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Chavez's legend looms large over election

中国日报网 2013-03-11 13:43

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The starting gun has fired for Venezuela's highly charged election race, which will likely pit Hugo Chavez's preferred successor, acting President Nicolas Maduro, against centrist opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

The pair must register their candidacy for the April 14 vote by Monday to determine whether Chavez's cause will live on in the OPEC nation, home to the world's largest proven oil reserves.

Chavez died on Tuesday at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Maduro, 50, the former vice-president and a one-time bus driver and union leader-turned politician, is expected to win the election comfortably, according to two recent polls.

Maduro has vowed, if elected, to carry on where Chavez left off.

The national electoral council set the poll date on Saturday one day after Maduro was sworn in.

Shortly after the date was set, the main opposition coalition announced it had unanimously chosen Capriles as its unity candidate again.

Capriles, the 40-year-old Miranda state governor who lost to Chavez in October but garnered the opposition's biggest vote against the former leader, accused the government and the Supreme Court of fraud for letting Maduro campaign without stepping down.

Capriles wrote on Twitter that he was "grateful" for the offer and will announce soon whether he will accept the nomination. He was picked by the coalition of opposition forces, known as MUD, last year in an unprecedented primary.

Political hostilities had already begun just hours after Venezuela and more than 30 foreign leaders gave Chavez a rousing state funeral, with Maduro railing against the opposition and capitalism following his inauguration.

Before Maduro was sworn in, Capriles denounced the inauguration as a "constitutional fraud" and an abuse of power by the government.

The electoral council said the campaign would be short, lasting from April 2 to 11.

The election will almost coincide with a key anniversary in Chavez's political history.

The late leader was briefly ousted on April 11, 2002, in a coup that was organized by the chamber of commerce and the trade union with the help of military officials. But he was restored to power by loyal soldiers on April 13 amid protests.

(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

About the broadcaster:

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.

 

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