Venezuela opposition leader Capriles calls off rally

Will Grant "people banging pots and pans in show of defiance"

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Venezuela's opposition leader Henrique Capriles has called off a rally to demand a recount of Sunday's disputed presidential election.

Rival Nicolas Maduro was declared to have won the poll, and earlier said he would not allow the opposition rally.

He accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup after clashes on Monday left seven people dead.

Mr Capriles said the government was responsible for the violence as it sought to avoid a recount.

He had called for a march on the National Electoral Council in the capital, Caracas, on Wednesday, and for peaceful protests around the country.

"We are ready to open a dialogue with the government so that the crisis can be ended in the coming hours," he said later, calling off the rally. He claimed that Mr Maduro's supporters were planning to infiltrate the march.

Mr Capriles had previously said he would not accept the election results until all votes were counted again, and called Mr Maduro "illegitimate".

On Tuesday, there were sporadic clashes between police and opposition members in several provincial cities, and protesters set up some roadblocks in Caracas.

'Come get me'

Mr Maduro said the government would not be blackmailed, and he called on Venezuelans to remain peaceful.

"This is the responsibility of those who have called for violence, who have ignored the constitution and the institutions," he said in a televised speech to the nation.

"Their plan is a coup d'etat," he added, while calling his own supporters into the streets.

"If they want to overthrow me, come get me. With the people and the armed forces, I am here."

Police clash with protesters in Caracas, 15 April 2013 Dozens were injured in clashes between police and protesters on Monday

Mr Maduro and other senior officials labelled Mr Capriles and his supporters "fascists".

Attorney General Luisa Ortega said clashes between protesters and police on Monday had left seven people dead, with more than 60 injured and 139 arrested.

She said some offices had been set on fire and public property destroyed.

State media reported that two of those killed were shot while celebrating Mr Maduro's victory in Caracas, one died in a government-run clinic in a central state, and two others were killed in an Andean border state.

Venezuela's election was held after President Hugo Chavez died of cancer last month. He had named Mr Maduro as his preferred successor.

Mr Maduro was declared to have won by 50.8% to 49% - a difference of some 265,000 votes.

The opposition said it had recorded thousands of cases of poll violations, including the use of fake identification and the intimidation of polling station volunteers.

The US said it was not ready to accept the election result.

State department deputy spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said the decision by the electoral council to declare Mr Maduro the victor before a full recount was "hard to understand".

"They did not explain their haste in taking this decision," he said.

Mr Maduro accuses the US of inciting the post-election violence.

Washington had a poor relationship with Mr Chavez. He accused the US of being behind a coup in which he was temporarily deposed in 2002.

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