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Prosecutor seeks opposition leader's arrest

Latest update : 2009-03-20

The Venezuelan government has called for the arrest of key opposition leader Manuel Rosales on corruption charges. Rosales, who is the mayor of Venezuela's second largest city of Maracaibo, ran against President Hugo Chavez in the 2006 polls.

AFP - A Venezuelan prosecutor on Thursday sought to arrest one of the country's top opposition leaders on corruption charges that could engender a jail term of three to 10 years.

Manuel Rosales is a former presidential candidate who ran against President Hugo Chavez in 2006. He is currently mayor of Maracaibo, Venezuela's second largest city.

The charges date to his 2002-2004 tenure as Zulia state governor, said prosecutor Katiuska Plaza.

A tribunal would rule on issuing an arrest warrant in 10-20 days, Plaza said.

Rosales maintained his innocence and said the accusations were politically motivated.

"They want to shut me up and wipe me out of politics but I will be a match for them," Rosales told journalists. "We'll face up to Chavez."

The head of the Un Nuevo Tiempo (New Times) main opposition party was already accused of graft last December.

In October, Chavez threatened to arrest Rosales ahead of elections in which the opposition won control of several key cities and states.

Chavez won a referendum in February that allows him to run for unlimited reelection.

Date created : 2009-03-20