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General backs Chavez ahead of poll

Venezuela's defence minister is claiming that opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles plans to dismantle the country's armed forces.

General Henry Rangel made the claim in a TV interview after Mr Capriles announced that an active general had agreed to be his defence minister.

Mr Capriles did not name the general, but Mr Rangel said he did not believe any Venezuelan general would betray President Hugo Chavez's socialist government by accepting the appointment.

Venezuela's military is constitutionally neutral but Mr Chavez has packed its leadership with loyalists.

That has raised questions about whether the armed forces would remain neutral if the results of Sunday's elections are in dispute.

Mr Chavez is a former military officer and coup leader who has been in power for nearly 14 years.


From Belfast Telegraph