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.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has vowed to deepen his socialist revolution after being comfortably returned to office.
Mr Chavez beat opposition challenger Henrique Capriles by more than nine percentage points.
Hugo Chavez has pledged to be a "better president" after sealing a comfortable election victory that could take his time in charge of Venezuela to 20 years.
In an address at the presidential palace in downtime Caracas, Mr Chavez said:
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.
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has accepted defeat and congratulated President Hugo Chavez on his re-election victory.
Capriles told supporters at his campaign headquarters, "I send him my congratulations".
He went on: "I hope a political movement that has been in power for 14 years understands that almost half the country does not agree with it".
Capriles also said he was proud of the large number of voters who turned out to cast their ballots for him.
Venezuela's electoral council has said that President Hugo Chavez has won a fourth team in office, after defeating challenger Henrique Capriles.
National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena said that with most votes counted, Chavez had about 54 percent of the vote.
It was Chavez's third re-election victory in nearly 14 years in office.
The victory gives Chavez another six-year term to cement his legacy and press more forcefully for a transition to socialism in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves.
Supporters of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez began setting off fireworks and partying in the street on Sunday night in anticipation of victory in the presidential election.
Various aides to Chavez published celebratory messages on Twitter, while some supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles began crying at his campaign center, Reuters witnesses said.
Interior Minister Tareck el Aissami tweeted: "Perfect victory! The fatherland has won".
There was no confirmation from election authorities who have stressed it is illegal to declare victory before an official announcement.