Hugo Chavez funeral to be held on Friday as 7 days of national mourning declared in Venezuela
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died aged 58, after 14 years in power.
Hugo Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, undergoing several operations in Cuba.
Crowds of supporters gathered outside the Caracas hospital where he died, chanting “We are all Chavez!”
A self-proclaimed revolutionary, Hugo Chavez was a controversial figure in Venezuela and on the world stage. A staunch critic of the US, he inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America.
Following Hugo Chavez’s death, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is held within 30 days, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.
“It is the mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us,” Elias Jaua told state television, adding that Nicolas Maduro would also be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).
It was not immediately clear when the election would take place.
Hugo Chavez’s illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he was re-elected for a fourth term in October.
The exact nature of Hugo Chavez’s cancer was never officially disclosed, leading to continuing speculation about his health, and he had not been seen in public for several months.
Seven days of national mourning have been declared after Hugo Chavez’s death and his body will lie in state until a funeral on Friday.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, whom Hugo Chavez defeated in October’s election, called on the government to “act in strict accordance with its constitutional duties”.
Henrique Capriles offered his condolences to Hugo Chavez’s family, saying “we were adversaries, but never enemies”.