Ten's of thousands of Venezuelan's have taken to the streets in a show of support as President Hugo Chavez launched his re-election bid. It was his biggest rally since he was diagnosed with cancer a year ago.
Chavez waved and blew kisses to the crowds outside the country's elections office on Monday as he registered to run for a third six-year term in office.
Clad in a jacket in the colors of Venezuela's red, blue and gold flag and his signature red beret he vowed to extend his 13 years of socialist rule. In a three-hour speech he vowed a "knockout" win in the October 7 election.
"As a player in the political game, I have come here and I commit, before Venezuela and the world, to recognize the outcome of the presidential election" he said.
He added that he hoped to expand his drive to build a socialist state, and presented election officials with what he described as a socialist plan for his government through 2019.
It was a dramatic re-entry into the public spotlight for the 57-year-old president, whose recent battle with cancer had forced him to scale back his public appearances.
He sought to quash rumors that his health may make him unfit to run for office, attributing them to "psychological warfare" waged by his opponents.
Chavez - a fierce critic of the United States - has been in power since 1999. If re-elected the prominent leftist leader would win the right to have ruled for 20 years.
His opponent, Henrique Capriles, formally registered to take on Chavez on Sunday. The 39-year-old united opposition candidate was also greeted by huge crowds of supporters as he marched and jogged the 6 miles (10 kilometers) from a park in eastern Caracas to the headquarters of the National Electoral Council.
He has vowed to fight crime, boost social programs and create jobs.
ccp/mr (AFP, AP, Reuters)