Venezuela Elects Chavez' Successor

World | April 14, 2013, Sunday // 11:32
Venezuela Elects Chavez' Successor: Venezuela Elects Chavez' Successor The Sunday presidential election is seen as crucial for the future of Venezuela. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Almost 19 million Venezuelans are voting Sunday to elect a successor to Hugo Chavez.

Polls open at 06:30 local time (10:30 GMT) and close 10 hours later, although they will stay open until all those in line by closing time have the chance to cast their ballot.

Voting is electronic - one machine will identify voters' fingerprints, and a second will recognize his or her identity card numbers and register the vote anonymously.

President Hugo Chavez died on March 5, after a two-year long battle against an undisclosed type of cancer.

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

Chavez's handpicked candidate, his deputy and interim president, Nicolas Maduro is seen as the front-runner, but recent polls show the gap between him and his top rival, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, is narrowing.

Venezuelan state television showed 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 Thursday.

On Friday, members of the opposition campaign said they had lodged an official complaint with the Electoral Commission, insisting VTV was "shamelessly breaking the electoral rules," BBC reports.

For his part, Nicolas Maduro claims an alleged "dirty war" is being plotted against him from Colombia's capital, Bogota.

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Tags: Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, nicolas maduro, election, elections, president, opposition, polls, voting, electronic, cancer, Henrique Capriles. Diego Maradona
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