The Straits Times
Published on Dec 16, 2012

Venezuela state elections held under shadow of Chavez cancer


CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuelans voted on Sunday in regional elections amid jitters over the health of President Hugo Chavez, who is recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba.

The voting for the 23 state governors of the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves will be a test for Mr Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader Mr Chavez beat in presidential elections in October.

Mr Capriles - governor of populous Miranda state, which includes part of Caracas - is seeking re-election and a consolidated status as leader of an array of parties that oppose Mr Chavez, a garrulous former paratrooper who has thoroughly dominated this nation since first being elected in 1999.

Mr Chavez supporters see the election as a way to show support for him and perhaps help him heal.