hugo chavez

Photo: AP Photo/Fernando Llano

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro says President Hugo Chavez has died.

The 58-year-old Venezuelan president was fighting an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer since at least June 30, 2011, and had come back from the illness to win re-election last year.

The news came just hours after a press conference by VP Maduro that gave the impression that Hugo Chavez was on the brink of death.

In a new statement, Maduro says Chavez died at 4:25 pm.

Bloomberg reports that Venezuela is to deploy troops to keep order in the streets, and Maduro is urging Venezuelans against violence.

Under Article 323 of the Venezuelan constitution, an election must take place within 30 days of the death of a president.

Chavez’s anointed heir, Maduro, may be President for less than a month before the election takes place.

If Maduro chooses to contest the election, it seems likely he would face opposition leader Henrique Capriles, a young, charismatic politician who received 46 per cent of the vote when he competed against Chavez in October.

Many suspect, however, that Diosdado Cabello, speaker in Venezuela’s congress and a hard-line Chavez ally, may make a run for the presidency or attempt to become the interim president, forcing Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela into conflict with itself.

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