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In October 2012 Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, stood for a fourth six-year presidential term starting in February 2013, and won the election with 54% of the vote. He was to be sworn in on 10 January 2013, but was unable to return from medical treatment in Cuba for the inauguration.

Hugo Chávez died on 5 March 2013.

Vice President Nicolás Maduro assumed presidential powers and duties after the death of President Chávez, pledging to continue his policies.

Recent opinion polls indicate that he is the favourite to win the special election to be held on 14 April 2013. His main rival is Henrique Capriles Radonski, who leads the Coalition for Democratic Unity.

Venezuela is facing a difficult and potentially volatile time, with political and economic uncertainty, rising violent crime, weak democratic institutions and strained relations with the United States.

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