orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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March 6, 2013

Even after death, Chavez gets choice of successor

(Continued)

CARACAS, Venezuela —

For both sides, uncertainty ruled the day.

It was not immediately clear when the presidential vote would be held, or where or when Chavez would be buried following Friday's pageant-filled funeral.

Venezuela's constitution specifies that the speaker of the National Assembly, currently Diosdado Cabello, should assume the interim presidency if a president can't be sworn in.

But the officials left in charge by Chavez before he went to Cuba in December for his fourth cancer surgery have not been especially assiduous about heeding the constitution, and human rights and free speech activists are concerned they will flaunt the rule of law.

Tuesday was a day fraught with mixed signals, some foreboding. Just a few hours before announcing Chavez's death, Maduro virulently accused enemies, domestic and foreign — clearly including the United States — of trying to undermine Venezuelan democracy. The government said two U.S. military attaches had been expelled for allegedly trying to destabilize the nation.

But in announcing that the president was dead, Maduro shifted tone, calling on Venezuelans to be "dignified heirs of the giant man."

"Let there be no weakness, no violence. Let there be no hate. In our hearts there should only be one sentiment: Love. Love, peace and discipline."

Capriles, who lost to Chavez in the October presidential election and is widely expected to be the opposition's candidate to oppose Maduro, was conciliatory in a televised address.

"This is not the moment to highlight what separates us," Capriles said. "This is not the hour for differences; it is the hour for union, it is the hour for peace."

Capriles, the youthful governor of Miranda state, has been feuding with Maduro and other Chavez loyalists who accused him of conspiring with far-right U.S. forces to undermine the revolution.

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