Venezuela's Maduro launches bid to succeed fallen Chavez

Caracas, Mar 11 (EFE).- Acting President Nicolas Maduro presented Monday to Venezuela's CNE electoral council his candidacy for the April 14 election to choose a successor to Hugo Chavez, who died last week after a nearly two-year battle against cancer.

"I come here to obey his order with that great love he cultivated in our hearts. I'm not Chavez, but I am his son," Maduro told the electoral authorities, before whom he presented the same program that the late head of state did nine months before when he entered the running for the Oct. 7 election.

Maduro recalled that on Dec. 8, two days before Chavez flew to Cuba for a fourth round of cancer surgery, the president said that if anything happened to him, his leftist party should take up his flag, his program, his cause and continue "the victorious battle for the consolidation of the homeland."

"Exactly nine months after our comandante presented this program for the nation, (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena, I take it in my hands and deliver it with love, with tears, with sorrow, but also with the greatest hope for a people that has awakened and will never be caught sleeping or be dominated again," Maduro said.

The erstwhile vice president presented "in the name of Comandante Hugo Chavez" and of the people, the "program of the nation," and promised to put it into practice for the balance of the 2013-2019 term.

Wearing a jacket with the red, blue and yellow of the Venezuelan flag, Maduro arrived at the office of the CNE on a bus.

Outside the CNE, thousands of ruling-party followers gathered to show their support for Maduro, designated by Chavez to be his successor.

Maduro's opponent will be Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles, who on Sunday formally accepted the nomination of a broad opposition alliance.

"I'm going to fight alongside you, alongside all of you," Capriles said in his acceptance speech.

Chavez defeated Capriles by 55 percent to 44 percent in last October's presidential ballot.