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Venezuela’s controversial President Hugo Chavez dies aged 58 after a battle with cancer.

Hugo Chavez, the polarizing president of Venezuela, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer, said Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

“We have just received the most tragic and awful information. At 4.25 p.m. (03.55 p.m. EST) March the 5th, President Hugo Chavez Frias died,” Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced in a televised address, his voice choking. “It’s a moment of deep pain,” he said in the address, in which he appeared with senior ministers.

(CNN) — A deeply divided Venezuela is mourning its late leader and preparing to pick a new president to replace him.

Venezuelan officials called for peace and unity after President Hugo Chavez’s death on Tuesday, emphasizing in state television broadcasts that all branches of the government and the military were standing together.

Elections will be held in 30 days, and Vice President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency in the interim, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said in an interview broadcast on state-run VTV.

Tearing up as he announced Chavez’s death after a long battle with cancer, Maduro called on Venezuelans to remain respectful.

“We must unite now more than ever,” Maduro said.

Henrique Capriles Radonski, a former presidential candidate and opposition leader, said Venezuelans should come together.

“This is not the time for difference,” he said. “It is the time for unity. It is the time for peace.”

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