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Venezuela's opposition leader to run for president

| Sunday, March 10, 2013, 9:09 p.m.
REUTERS
Henrique Capriles, Venezuela's opposition leader and governor of the state of Miranda, addresses the media in Caracas March 8, 2013. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo (VENEZUELA - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT)

CARACAS — Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles will challenge the late Hugo Chavez's preferred successor for the presidency of the South American OPEC nation next month, sources said on Sunday, setting the stage for a bitter campaign.

Capriles and acting President Nicolas Maduro have until Monday to register their candidacies for the vote on April 14. The election will decide whether Chavez's self-styled socialist and nationalist revolution will live on in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves.

“It's going to be tough, but we're going to do it,” a source from Capriles camp told Reuters. “Henrique's made his decision. He's not backing down.”

Former vice president Maduro, 50, a hulking one-time bus driver and union leader turned politician who echoes Chavez's anti-imperialist rhetoric, is predicted to win the election comfortably, according to recent polls.

Maduro pushed for a snap election to cash in on a wave of empathy triggered by Chavez's death on Tuesday at age 58 during a two-year battle with cancer.

He was sworn in as acting president on Friday to the fury of Capriles, the youthful governor who often wears a baseball cap and tennis shoes. Capriles lost to Chavez in October, but he got 44 percent of the vote — the strongest showing by the opposition against Chavez.

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