Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez's office 'to become museum'

Late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez
Image caption Mr Chavez gave lengthy news conferences from the Miraflores Palaces, sometimes breaking into song

Venezuela's acting president Nicolas Maduro says he will turn the office where the late President Hugo Chavez worked into a museum.

Mr Maduro said the room would be kept intact and a wing of the presidential palace turned into a monument to Mr Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution".

Mr Chavez died of cancer last month.

Following his death, presidential elections were called for 14 April, pitting Mr Maduro against main opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

Mr Capriles says that despite Mr Maduro's attempt at portraying himself as Mr Chavez's heir, the acting president lacks the late leader's charisma.

"I'm going to look after it for a few years, but it'll always be Chavez's home," Mr Maduro said referring to the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, where Venezuela's presidents have their office.

Full of confidence ahead of Sunday's polls, Mr Maduro said he would "occupy a small office in Miraflores in another wing", so that Venezuelans could roam the rooms of the presidential palace and "learn how the commander had lived, and what he had eaten".

Fierce battle

Since Mr Chavez died on 5 March, Mr Maduro has cast himself as his natural successor in office.

He has called himself "Chavez's son" and said that the late president had appeared to him in the form of a little bird.

Image caption Henrique Capriles (r) is taking on acting president Nicolas Maduro

Speaking last week at the official start of the presidential campaign in the house where Mr Chavez was born, Mr Maduro said a small bird had flown around him three times and looked at him "oddly", at which point he he had felt in his soul it was a message from Mr Chavez.

"I felt its blessing, telling us: 'Today the battle begins, go for victory, you have my blessing'," Mr Maduro said.

Henrique Capriles mocked Mr Maduro saying that he had "not seen a little bird, but swallowed one, the one he has in his head!"

He has also questioned Mr Maduro's ability to lead the country saying that "whatever the outcome, I don't see how Nicolas Maduro has the capacity to stay for an extended time in government".

Mr Capriles has dismissed polls that suggest Mr Maduro has an unassailable lead over him. "Of course I can win," he told AFP news agency, "Maduro lacks charisma and leadership".

Mr Maduro said his rival was "jealous" and promised to beat him by 10 million votes in Sunday's polls.

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