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Venezuela closes border with Colombia

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-10 13:16

CARACAS - Venezuela on Tuesday closed its border with Colombia as part of the measures to step up security ahead of the presidential election on April 14, military chief in the border state of Tachira said.

"Strict border control of movement of people, vehicles and cargo by land" between 6:00 am (10:30 GMT) on Tuesday until 6:00 am on April 15, was imposed along the 2,000-km borderline, the official Gazette quoted Gen. Eliseo Lugo as saying.

Defense Minister Diego Molero Bellavia and Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol authorized the closure, said the Gazette.

On April 14, an estimated 18 million Venezuelan voters will go to polling stations nationwide to choose a new president to complete the six-year term of late President Hugo Chavez, who died last month of cancer.

The government usually shuts down borders ahead of presidential elections, but this year's closure is earlier than usual. In last October's presidential election between Chavez and opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the borders were closed a day before the vote.

Acting President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's political heir, led six other candidates, including his main rival Capriles, by more than 10 percentage points in the latest opinion poll.

To ensure a peaceful election, the Venezuelan government has also  ordered prohibition of sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages on April 12-15.

During the period, except for public safety officials and authorized personnel to protect the diplomatic missions in Venezuela, no individuals are allowed to carry firearms.

Moreover, the defense ministry has activated the Republic Plan, deploying 141,000 members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces to ensure the security of voters, participants and electoral process.

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