By PAUL HAVEN and E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) â¿¿ Hugo Chavez's body will be preserved and forever displayed inside a glass tomb at a military museum not far from the presidential palace from which he ruled for 14 years, his successor announced Thursday in a Caribbean version of the treatment given Communist revolutionary leaders such as Lenin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's acting head of state, said Chavez would first lie in state for "at least" seven more days before the museum becomes his permanent home. It was not clear when exactly he would be moved from the military academy where his body has been since Wednesday.
Later Thursday, the National Assembly speaker announced that Maduro would be sworn in Friday night as acting president following a state funeral and would call elections within 30 days. That enables him, as the designated governing party candidate, to run for president as Chavez desired. Legal scholars say that under the constitution, the legislature's speaker should instead be sworn in and organize the vote.
More than 30 heads of government, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are to attend the funeral. U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, will represent the United States, which Chavez often portrayed as a great global evil even as he sent the country billions of dollars in oil each year.
Maduro said the ceremony would begin at 11 a.m., but did not say where.
"We have decided to prepare the body of our 'Comandante President,' to embalm it so that it remains open for all time for the people. Just like Ho Chi Minh. Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong," Maduro said.
He said the body would be held in a "crystal urn" at the Museum of the Revolution, a mile from Miraflores presidential palace.