High court affirms Maduro acting president

Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro raises his fist as he arrives along with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, right, for the funeral ceremony for Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez at the military academy in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 8, 2013. With leaders from five continents on hand, Venezuela prepared for a day of distinctly different ceremonies, first the formal state funeral of Hugo Chavez, then the controversial swearing in of Maduro, his anointed interim successor, who the opposition charges has no constitutional right to the job. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's Supreme Court says Vice President Nicolas Maduro became acting president the moment Hugo Chavez died, and can run for president.

The decision comes just hours before Maduro is to be sworn in as acting president before the National Assembly and it was issued during the state funeral for Chavez.

National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello had earlier announced the planned swearing-in, which the opposition says it is boycotting.

In a tweet, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called Friday's court ruling "a constitutional fraud."

The constitution specifies that the National Assembly speaker should have become interim president as Chavez was never able to assume office before he died Tuesday.

Chavez was re-elected on Oct. 7 but never sworn in. He anointed Maduro his successor.