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Maduro controversially sworn in

Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro stands in front of a portrait of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chávez after a symbolic swearing-in ceremony in the presence of the flag-draped coffin of Chávez at the military academy where the funeral ceremony was held earlier in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo: PA

Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro stands in front of a portrait of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chávez after a symbolic swearing-in ceremony in the presence of the flag-draped coffin of Chávez at the military academy where the funeral ceremony was held earlier in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo: PA

Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in as Venezuela’s acting President, despite the objections of the opposition, who said the move violated the country’s constitution.

Venezuela will follow the route to socialism

Former President Hugo Chávez designated Mr Maduro as his successor before he died on Tuesday of cancer. Mr Maduro had been Mr Chávez’s Vice-President.

The country’s 1999 constitution says the National Assembly speaker becomes interim President in the event of a President-elect’s death or inability to be sworn in.

The constitution also says a presidential election should be called within 30 days.

Mr Maduro has been picked as the presidential candidate of Mr Chávez’s socialist party.

Opposition leader Angel Medina had said they would boycott the swearing-in ceremony.

Fireworks exploded above the capital of Caracas as soon as Mr Maduro was sworn in as President.

Both Mr Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello pledged to follow Mr Chávez’s example and push his socialist-inspired agenda.

“I swear by the most absolute loyalty to comrade Hugo Chávez that we will fulfill and see that it’s fulfilled the constitution... with the iron fist of a people ready to be free,” Mr Maduro said.

After Mr Cabello swore in Mr Maduro, the National Assembly president said: “Venezuela will follow the route to socialism.”

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said Mr Maduro used Mr Chávez’s funeral earlier in the day to campaign for the presidency, in violation of the constitution.

Mr Capriles is widely expected to run against Mr Maduro in the coming vote.

The funeral ceremony drew world leaders, athletes and left-wing celebrities, while multitudes of Chávez supporters watched on giant screens outside.

It began with Venezuela’s national youth orchestra singing the national anthem, led by famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

With much of the world watching, Mr Maduro delivered a fiery speech repeating some of the aggressive rhetoric he had used just hours before announcing Mr Chávez’s death.

His words, and even the tone of his voice, echoed the speeches that Mr Chávez so often delivered, even if the crowds of red-shirted supporters this time were kept far away from the ceremonies held in a military academy.

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