Venezuelans will vote April 14 to choose a successor to Hugo Chavez, the elections commission announced Saturday as increasingly strident political rhetoric begins to roil this polarized country.
The constitution mandated the election take place within 30 days of Chavez’s March 5 death, but the date chosen falls outside that period. Critics of the socialist government already complained that officials violated the constitution by swearing in Vice President Nicolas Maduro as acting leader Friday night.
Some people have speculated Venezuela will not be ready to organize the vote in time, but elections council chief Tibisay Lucena said the country’s electronic voting system was fully prepared.
Lucena announced the date on state television, appearing in a small inset as the main picture showed people filing past Chavez’s coffin at the military academy in Caracas, where his body has lain in state since Wednesday.
Chavez’s boisterous state funeral Friday often felt like a political rally for his anointed successor, Maduro, who eulogized him by vowing Chavez’s movement never will be defeated. Maduro is expected to run as the candidate of Chavez’s socialist party.