CARACAS - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez said on Friday that if an opposition candidate wins this year's presidential election, he will be the first to recognize the rival's victory and hand over power.
The most extreme critics of the controversial South American socialist suggest he could refuse to accept the results if he loses the ballot on October 7.
In a marathon state of the nation speech to parliament, Chavez, 57, scoffed at that and called on opposition leaders to pledge publicly to respect the outcome.
"If one of you wins the election, I would be the first to recognize it, and I ask the same of you," he said, making a point of greeting some of his most virulent foes on his way in.
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