Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he will challenge the late Hugo Chavez's preferred successor for the presidency of the South American OPEC nation next month, setting the stage for a bitter campaign.
Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor, will face election favourite and acting President Nicolas Maduro. The pair have until Monday to register their candidacies for the vote on April 14th.
The election will decide whether Chavez's self-styled socialist and nationalist revolution will live on in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves.
A fist-pumping Hugo Chavez has led throngs of supporters in celebration from the balcony of the Venezuelan presidential palace in Caracas.
The socialist leader has been re-elected just months after cancer treatment removed him from the public eye and left him fending off rumours that he was dying.
Mr Chavez emerged to make an address at Milaflores Palace dressed in a signature red shirt and waving a replica sword of independence hero Simon Bolivar after his new six-year term was confirmed.
The 58-year-old, who has been in power for 14 years, told his adoring crowd: "Today we've shown that Venezuela's democracy is one of the best democracies in the world, and we will continue to show it."
Jubilant supporters poured onto the streets of Venezuela's capital Caracas to celebrate the victory of President Hugo Chavez.
Mary Reina, a 62-year-old Chavez supporter who lives in the hillside slum where the president cast his vote said: "I'm celebrating with a big heart. Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America."
Chavez, 58, took 54.42 percent of the vote, with 90 percent of the ballots counted, compared with 44.97 percent for young opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, the electoral authority said.