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Maduro sworn in as Venezuela's president

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Rafael Romo, CNN
April 22, 2013 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor, is sworn in Friday as Venezuela's president.
Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor, is sworn in Friday as Venezuela's president.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nicolas Maduro is sworn in as Venezuela's president
  • Hugo Chavez tapped him as a successor
  • The opposition candidate has called for a recount; election officials auditing results
  • Man rushes toward podium; "He could have shot me right here," Maduro says

(CNN) -- Hugo Chavez's handpicked successor was sworn in as Venezuela's president on Friday.

Nicolas Maduro's inauguration ceremony took a dramatic turn at one point as a man in a red jacket rushed toward the podium in Venezuela's National Assembly.

"They could have shot me right here. Security has failed," Maduro said after the man was taken away.

Maduro was quick to regain the floor and spoke for more than two hours, vowing to crack down on any coup attempts to remove him from the presidency and slamming political opponents for waging what he called a "dirty election campaign" against him.

Venezuela's casserole street protest

Maduro's inauguration comes a day after Venezuela's National Electoral Council said it would complete 100% audit of votes cast in Sunday's election "to preserve a climate of harmony between Venezuelans."

Maduro secured 50.8% of votes in the election while opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski won 49%, election officials said earlier this week.

Capriles had called for a vote-by-vote recount but said late Thursday that he accepted the decision by election officials to audit the tally.

The narrow margin has sparked mounting tensions in Venezuela after the closely watched election to pick Chavez's successor.

Venezuela's state-run AVN news agency said at least eight people have been killed in post-election violence across the country.

The government news agency tied the deaths to opposition protests and said the victims were all followers of Maduro.

CNN could not independently confirm government reports of violence and it was unknown whether there were any opposition injuries or fatalities.

Opposition protesters have sent numerous accounts to CNN's iReport, criticizing the government and pushing for a recount.

In one of his last public appearances before his March 5 death, Chavez said he wanted Maduro to be his successor.

Maduro now describes himself as "Chavez's son" and has vowed to continue the late leader's plans to build "21st century socialism."

On Thursday night, Capriles urged supporters not to be discouraged by Friday's inauguration and to stay at home and listen to salsa music.

"This fight has not finished. ... I am sure that sooner rather than later the truth will come out," he said.

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