Hugo Chavez refuses debate with rival


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The Independent US

Venezualan president Hugo Chavez has ruled out holding a pre-election debate with his opponent Henrique Capriles, saying he would be "ashamed" to measure himself against a "nonentity".

Addressing a news conference, Mr Chavez added: "I'd be ashamed because what you have there is nothing ... I'd have liked to face a heavyweight, not a nonentity."

Despite a recurrence of his cancer that has kept him off the street, Mr Chavez, 57, leads most opinion polls and officials are confident he will be re-elected on 7 October.

Mr Capriles, a young, centre-left state governor, says people are frightened of expressing their real opinions.