Venezuelan acting president Nicolas Maduro has said a centuries-old curse would fall on the heads of those who do not vote for him in next week's election to pick a successor to late leader Hugo Chavez.
Maduro's invocation of the "curse of Macarapana" was the latest twist in an increasingly surreal fight between him and opposition leader Henrique Capriles for control of the South American OPEC nation of 29 million people.
"If anyone among the people votes against Nicolas Maduro, he is voting against himself, and the curse of Macarapana is falling on him," said Maduro, referring to the 16th-century Battle of Macarapana when Spanish colonial fighters massacred local Indian forces.
To the cheers of thousands of supporters, acting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro officially registered his candidacy today for the upcoming elections.
The 50-year-old arrived to the National Electoral Council driving his own bus to register his candidacy.
"I am going to accomplish his orders (referring to Chavez) with the biggest love that he cultivated in our hearts. I am not Chavez, but I am his son and together with the people, we are Chavez," Maduro said after registering his candidacy.
Both Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles have begun Venezuela's election race with scathing personal attacks on one another.
Maduro, who was sworn in as acting president after Chavez succumbed to cancer last week, is seen as the favourite to win the April 14 election, bolstered by an oil-financed state apparatus and a wave of public sympathy over Chavez's death.
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.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles will run for president in Venezuela's April election and is expected to formally announce the decision later today, two sources in his camp said.
"There's a lot of negativity around, it's going to be tough, but we're going to do it", one of the sources told Reuters.
"Henrique's made his decision. He's not backing down."
Venezuela's centrist opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said he was "evaluating" the election date ruling and has thanked the coalition for proposing his candidacy.
The Venezuela presidential election will be held on April 14, the country's election commission told Reuters.
Acting President Nicolas Maduro, the protege of deceased leader Hugo Chavez, is the favourite to win the election in a likely face-off with centrist opposition Governor Henrique Capriles.
Acting Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has asked the country's election authority to call a vote immediately.
Officials are expected to announce the election date on Saturday as the South American country appoints a permanent successor to Hugo Chavez.
Mr Maduro, meanwhile, also named the late president's son-in-law Jorge Arreaza as his vice president during his time as interim leader.
Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in as the interim president of Venezuela following the state funeral for Hugo Chavez.
Maduro held the post of vice president under Chavez and had been passionately backed as his successor by the late president.
With the queues to see Hugo Chavez's body still snaking through the capital, Venezuala said goodbye to the man who has dominated politics in the country for decades.
Some 30 head of state from around the world were among the mourners at his state funeral; many of them visibly emotional.
ITV News' International Editor Bill Neely reports from Caracas: