CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles is set to announce he will run in elections to replace Hugo Chavez, setting up a make-or-break encounter against the dead president’s hand-picked successor, a close adviser to the candidate says.
“He will accept” the nomination, the adviser told The Associated Press. He spoke yesterday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the decision publicly ahead of a formal announcement scheduled for later in the day.
Other opposition sources refused to comment, but a political consultant at ORC Consultores, which advises Capriles, also said he would run.
“He will put himself forward,” said Oswaldo Ramirez. “History is giving Capriles Radonski an important role.”
Venezuela’s election commission has set April 14 as the date of the vote, with formal campaigning to start just 12 days earlier. Ramirez said the 40-year-old opposition leader would demand that officials extend the campaign period by moving up the start date by more than a week, and that acting president Nicolas Maduro not be allowed to abuse state resources to boost his chances during the campaign.
Maduro has already announced his intention to run as the candidate of Chavez’s socialist party. On Sunday he picked up the support of Venezuela’s small communist party as well.
In a speech accepting the party’s nomination, Maduro insisted he was running for president out of loyalty to Chavez, not vanity or personal ambition, and called on the people to support him