Hugo Chavez's body will be on display at least one more week after his state funeral so that Venezuelans can continue paying their respects. Meanwhile, Vice President Nicolas Maduro is to be sworn in as acting president.
Amid endless throngs of Chavez supporters waiting to catch one last glimpse of "el comandante," Vice President Maduro extended the viewing period to accommodate the millions still expected.
Following the funeral, Chavez's body will be returned to its current home, a military academy in Caracas.
After two days of steady lines of Venezuelans waiting to pay their respects, at least two million more were expected, according to the country's Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas.
International leaders joined the viewing lines, as well, among them Cuban President Raul Castro and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica.
The news of the long-time leader's death has unleashed a massive outpouring of emotion. On Wednesday, a sea of people clad in red shirts accompanied a procession that transported Chavez's body from the military hospital in Caracas to a military academy. Maduro led the seven-hour march through the streets of the capital city.
Representatives from around the globe are due to arrive in Caracas for Chavez's funeral on Friday, including most Latin American leaders, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, and Prince Felipe of Spain.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday, aged 58, after losing a battle to cancer.
Maduro to become acting president
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro was to be sworn in as acting president after Chavez's funeral, the National Assembly speaker announced on state television on Thursday.
Maduro has been acting as interim president since Chavez passed away on Tuesday, even though the constitution stipulates that the speaker of the National Assembly - currently Diosdado Cabello - should assume the role. Even though Chavez had won a fourth term in mid-October, he was never sworn in due to health issues. However, the country's Supreme Court had upheld his legitimacy as head of government, delaying the January inauguration until his health improved.
In December, Chavez stated his wish for Maduro to act as interim head, according to Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua.
It was unclear if the government would still hold presidential elections within 30 days in compliance with the constitution, as it had originally promised earlier this week.
kms/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters)