Venezuela campaign a war of good vs evil: Capriles

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles raised the rhetorical stakes on Sunday, casting his campaign against interim president Nicolas Maduro as a spiritual struggle of good versus evil.

Mr Capriles, 40, is running against Mr Maduro to succeed the late leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez in April 14 elections.

"I feel that this fight... has become a spiritual struggle of a divine character, because those who live in Venezuela feel that this has become a struggle to break down a wall of evil," Mr Capriles said.

Referring to his opponent's camp, the Miranda state governor warned that "those who tell lies" and "use their power to blackmail or manipulate" the people "take the side of evil." "Those who believe in the truth... are on the side of good, and are those who want to defeat evil," added Mr Capriles, as he repeated his criticism of the ruling party for abusing state resources to campaign.

The youthful governor lost October elections to Mr Chavez, who died March 5 after losing a fight to cancer.

Mr Capriles, who toured Venezuela's 23 states before to his campaign, also lashed out at the ruling party for using the image and legacy of Mr Chavez to bolster Mr Maduro, the 50-year-old handpicked successor of the "comandante."

Campaigning officially begins on April 2, but the candidates have already started courting votes in a highly confrontational pre-campaign filled with religious connotations.