Campaigning officially opened in Venezuela on Tuesday for state and municipal elections that will be a key test for both President Hugo Chavez and the opposition.
Chavez's supporters held rallies in spots across the country, some of them accusing adversaries of plotting violence ahead of the vote.
"Leave behind the violent behavior. Let's face off," said Caracas mayoral candidate Jorge Rodriguez, Chavez's former vice president.
The opposition, meanwhile, accused the ruling party of illegally using state media to favor pro-Chavez candidates.
"This is a David-against-Goliath fight because the government has the exclusive use of state television, the entire network of state media," opposition politician Juan Carlos Caldera told The Associated Press.
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