All singing, all dancing: Hugo Chavez opens election bid

 

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With some dance steps, a little light singing and a speech that lasted three hours, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared before thousands of supporters to declare his candidacy for re-election in October and dispel rumours that his year-long fight with cancer has brought him close to death.

"They say Chavez is dying, he is in a wheelchair, that they are looking for a successor" Mr Chavez, who was occasionally unsteady, told a jubilant crowd in Caracas. "I say thank you God and my people. I am here in front of you."

There is still no official word on the condition of Mr Chavez who was diagnosed a year ago and has been undergoing surgery and radiation treatment mostly in Cuba.

He faces a challenge from opposition leader Henrique Capriles, a moderate former provincial governor.

Mr Capriles, who is as much as 20 points behind Mr Chavez in most polls, promises to bridge social and economic divisions. "I want to be everybody's president, not the president of a single group," he told his followers.

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