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Venezuela votes to choose new president

Polling centres opened at 10:30 GMT on Sunday and were expected to remain open until 6:00pm local time (22:30 GMT), though voting could run longer depending on the turnout, according to Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo, reporting from the outskirts of Caracas. She said that as early as 4:00am local time, people, many of them supporters of Chavez's hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro, had already started lining up to vote. "While you are here, it's impressive to see the organisation of the ruling socialist party," our correspondent said. Lines formed under a blistering sun outside voting centres all around the capital. People stood in line outside the school where Chavez used to vote in the poor January 23 neighbourhood of the capital.
 
"Nicolas is going to win, but we can't afford to be triumphalist. We need to work hard to get people out to vote," said Chavista activist Mario Izarra, 33.
 
But in the eastern Caracas neighbourhood known as bastion of opposition leader Henrique Capriles bastion, voters said they were fed up with violence that left 16,000 people dead last year and a weak economy that has people struggling to find items such as butter and milk in grocery stores.

"I want change because the situation is not good. There's no security, the country is divided in two," said Pietro Bellacicco, 75, a retired agricultural worker.

"I hope to see us united, all together again as Venezuelans."
 
After casting his vote in the capital, Capriles told his supporters: "Today, Venezuela wins."

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