By Sandra Birungi
Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez has died after battling two years with cancer.
Chavez died at the age of 58 and ruled Venezuela for 14 years. His death was announced by the Foreign Minister, Jose Jaua Milano who also declared seven days of mourning for the deceased. “We have received the toughest and tragic information that… Comandante President Hugo Chavez died today at 16:25 (20:55 GMT),” he says.
Chavez was last in the public eye last year after he left the country to go for surgery in Cuba. He was supposed to be sworn in for his third presidential term but was not able to because of his illness and it was postponed. His death comes as a blow to many Venezuelans who loved him for what he had done for his country.
People could be seen praying for him during his time of sickness willing him to get better and rule the country once again. He will be laid to rest on Friday and the burial arrangements are yet to be announced in detail. The presidency of Venezuela now falls in the hands of vice president, Nicolas Maduro who will rule the country until an election is called within a period of 30 days.
“It is the mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us,” Mr Jaua said adding that Mr Maduro would also be the candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).
Hundreds of Chavez supporters appeared in front of the hospital where he died, shouting:”We are all Chavez!” and “Chavez lives!” Francis Izquierdo, one of Chavez’s supporters said, “He was a man who taught us to love our fatherland. The comandante is physically gone but he remains in our hearts and we must continue building the fatherland.”
UK Foreign Minister William Hague said he was “saddened” to learn of the death, saying Mr Chavez had left a “lasting impression” on Venezuela. “This is a sensitive moment for the country. You are strongly advised to avoid any public gatherings,” he said.