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Venezuela closes border with Colombia ahead of presidential elections

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday closed its border with Colombia on the eve of the country's presidential elections, a military official said.

According to Gen. Eliseo Lugo, military chief in the border state of Tachira, the 2,000 km of border line shared by the two countries from the Caribbean Sea to the Amazon rainforest will be closed until April 15.

The move was authorized by Defense Minister Diego Molero Bellavia and Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol, the Official Gazette said Tuesday.

The closure will cover the "strict border control of movement of people, vehicles and cargo by land during the period from 6 a.m. (10:30 GMT) on Tuesday, April 9, 2013, until 6 a.m. on Monday, April 15, " said the Gazette.

On April 14, an estimated 18 million Venezuelan voters will go to polling stations across the country to choose a new president for the South American country, to complete the term of late President Hugo Chavez, who died last month of cancer.

Acting president Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's political heir, and Henrique Capriles, governor of the central Miranda state, are front-runners in the competition, in which the former leads the latest poll with more than 10 percentage point against other candidates.

To ensure the peaceful organization of elections, Venezuelan government has ordered to ban the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages between April 12 and 15.

Possession of firearms is also banned in the same period, except for public safety officials and authorized personnel to protect diplomatic missions in Venezuela.

The defense ministry has also activated the Republic Plan, deploying 141,000 members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to ensure the security of voters, participants and electoral process.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130410/venezuela-closes-border-colombia-ahead-presidential-elections