Nicolas Maduro was sworn in as Venezuela’s acting president today hours after eulogizing his mentor Hugo Chavez, who died this week following a two-year battle with cancer.
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello administered the oath of office to Maduro, who will seek to extend Chavez’s legacy and campaign for a six-year term in a snap presidential election. The national electoral council hasn’t yet set a date for the vote, which by law must be held within 30 days of the president’s death.
Outside the legislature, hundreds of government supporters were gathered to show their support for Maduro.
Chavez named Maduro his preferred successor before traveling to Cuba in December for his fourth cancer surgery, urging followers to vote for the former union leader who served as his longtime foreign minister. Members of Chavez’s cabinet this week have rallied around Maduro, who has vowed to continue with Chavez’s legacy of heavy state control over the economy.
“We will carry on and stick together as a people,” Maduro said today in a 32-minute eulogy during Chavez’s funeral in Caracas. “We will continue protecting the poor, continue feeding those in need, continue educating our children, continue building our great homeland, continue fomenting peace.”
Opposition leader said they would boycott today’s ceremony, which they denounced as a pro-government campaign event along with the alleged politicization of Chavez’s funeral.
Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in an October election by 11 percentage points, objected to a High Court ruling allowing Maduro to serve as caretaker while he campaigns.
Article 229 of the constitution prohibits the vice president and other top officials from running for president while in office. The court, in its decision, said Maduro ceased serving as vice president once he is sworn in as “acting President.”
“While the country was watching Chavez’s funeral, the court committed fraud,” Capriles said in televised comments today. “Nicolas, the people didn’t elect you. They didn’t vote for you, kid.”
Capriles didn’t announce whether he will run again for president, saying only that he’d make a decision in the coming hours.
In the event of a head-on race, Maduro would enjoy a 46.4 percent to 34.3 percent advantage over Capriles, according to a survey taken Jan. 31 to Feb. 20 by Caracas-based polling company Datanalisis. The poll has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
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