Venezuela stable after Chavez's death

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Caracas - The situation in Venezuela remains stable following the death of President Hugo Chavez, though his grieving supporters took to the streets, chanting slogans in memory of the socialist leader.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, accompanied by key members of cabinet, announced on Tuesday the death of Chavez, who had battled with cancer for almost two years.

"At 4:25pm, the commander President Hugo Chavez [passed away]," he said, calling the event a "historical tragedy" and urging Venezuelans to be vigilant for the peace of the country.

Maduro called on Venezuelans to be vigilant for the peace of the country.

During a separate televised meeting of political and military leaders at the presidential palace, the vice president said that the "imperialist" conspirators, in alliance with domestic foes, had infected the president with cancer.

He said a panel will be set up to determine the causes of Chavez's illness.

In his speech, Defence Minister Diego Molero appealed for "unity, tranquillity and understanding" among Venezuelans.

He pledged that the armed forces will defend the constitution and respect Chavez's wishes.

The Venezuelan government declared seven days of mourning. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Chavez's remains will lie in state at a Caracas military academy until a formal funeral ceremony on Friday.

According to its constitution, Venezuela would hold a presidential election within 30 days but in the meanwhile, Maduro takes over presidential duties until then. –