Hugo Chavez dismisses health concerns


President Hugo Chavez said he is completely free of cancer and assured Venezuelans that physical limitations stemming from his recuperation will not affect his re-election campaign.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Chavez said he is "totally free" of cancer and plans to begin actively campaigning soon following months of radiation treatment, physical rehabilitation and medical exams.

"I feel in better physical condition every day," he said.

Over the past 13 months, Mr Chavez has undergone two surgeries that removed tumours from his pelvic region, most recently in February.

The socialist leader has not disclosed key details about his illness including the type of cancer that had been diagnosed.

Following his cancer treatment, Mr Chavez has appeared in public less frequently, preferring to address Venezuelans during marathon speeches broadcast on television and radio.

Some had questioned the Venezuelan leader's ability to compete in the October 7 election and rumours had circulated that he would name a successor.

Mr Chavez called on his supporters to prepare for "an offensive", when he plans to start attending campaign rallies.