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Maduro signs mourning decree as "acting president" of Venezuela


12:48, March 07, 2013

CARACAS, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan vice-president Nicolas Maduro signed Tuesday a decree ordering a seven-day national mourning for late President Hugo Chavez in his capacity as the country's acting president.

The decree, dated March 5, 2013, was published with Maduro's signature as "acting president" by the Official Gazette. It orders national mourning for the "regretful and painful death and irreparable loss of the hero of the fatherland Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias."

Maduro, 51, was Venezuela's Foreign Minister and became the Vice President on Oct. 10, 2012, in replacement of Elias Jaua, who later became the new Foreign Minister.

On Dec. 8, 2012, before traveling to Cuba to undergo a fourth cancer surgery, Chavez appointed Maduro as his political heir and asked his followers to vote him in case that he could not overcome his disease.

The decree also orders all national flags to fly at half mast in all the public and private buildings in the country until March 11.

In addition, during the mourning period, festivities are banned as well as the sell of alcoholic beverages. Apart from the armed forces, ordinary citizens are not allowed to carry weapons.

According to Venezuela's Constitution, after the absolute absence of a President during the term's first year, the Vice President will assume as acting president and will hold elections within 30 days.

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