Venezuela has set a date for its presidential election to replace the late Hugo Chavez. The acting president and Chavez's hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, is to try to win the job on a more permanent basis.
Venezuela's electoral commission has selected April 14 as the date for a presidential election. Chavez's vice president and successor, acting President Nicolas Maduro, plans try to win his own term in office.
"I asked (the election authority) to comply with legal and constitutional obligations and immediately call elections," Maduro said.
Meet the candidates
Maduro, 50, is to face off against Venezuela's main opposition coalition's candidate. The coalition offered its candidacy to Henrique Capriles on Saturday.
Capriles, who lost to Chavez in the election last October, has said he will announce his decision on whether to run on Sunday.
Recent polls favor Maduro, who will be looking to benefit from the outpouring of goodwill in the wake of Chavez's death on Tuesday. A former union leader who served as Chavez's foreign minister and vice present, Maduro has vowed to carry on Chavez's style of socialist revolution.
Maduro eulogized the former leader in front of world leaders and thousands of mourners in Caracas on Friday. Chavez was adored by the poor, who are now expected to throw their support behind Maduro.
Thousands continued to file past Chavez's casket at the weekend, paying their last respects.
Chavez's opponents, however, want to end the era of "Chavismo" and hope to help Capriles secure victory on April 14.
"We want change. We are tired of the Chavez era. It's been 14 years," said Yesenia Herrera, 33, a cook at a Chinese restaurant in an affluent quarter of Caracas.
The electoral commission said the candidates need to register for the election by Monday.
The opposition was angered by the swearing in of Maduro after Chavez's funeral on Friday, saying that it was a violation of the constitution.
Venezuela's 1999 constitution says the National Assembly speaker takes over as interim president in the event of a president-elect's death or inability to be sworn in. It also stipulates that new elections be called within 30 days.
Instead, Chavez's vice president was sworn in as the caretaker of Venezuela before the vote on April 14, and the date of the upcoming vote falls beyond the 30-day stipulation.
"To become president, the people have to elect you," Capriles said on Friday. "No one elected Nicolas president."
tm/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)