Defense minister attacks Chavez opponent

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Associated Press

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 6:35 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's defense minister is claiming that opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles plans to dismantle the country's armed forces.

Gen. Henry Rangel made the claim Tuesday in a TV interview after Capriles announced that an active general had agreed to be his defense minister. Capriles didn't name the general, but Rangel said he didn't believe any Venezuelan general would betray President Hugo Chavez's socialist government by accepting the appointment.

Venezuela's military is constitutionally neutral but Chavez has packed its leadership with loyalists.

That has raised questions about whether the armed forces would remain neutral if the results of Sunday's elections are in dispute.

Chavez is a former military officer and coup leader who has been in power for nearly 14 years.

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