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Venezuela Institutes New Provisional Government

Venezuela has a new provisional government following the resignation of President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela's military has detained Mr. Chavez, but what will become of the leftist leader is not clear.

Venezuela's interim leader, economist and businessman Pedro Carmona, has pledged to fulfil what he calls his patriotic duty in guiding his country to new elections. Mr. Carmona, who heads a Venezuelan business association, was actively involved in the popular uprising to oust Hugo Chavez, which ended in bloodshed Thursday with at least a dozen protesters killed and about 100 others wounded.

Venezuela's military commanders revolted against Mr. Chavez in the wake of the violence and demanded his resignation. Early Friday, the president complied. Reports from Caracas say Mr. Chavez has been taken to an army base.

Military commanders are quoted as saying their former commander in chief will be held accountable for his actions as president. They have appealed to Venezuela's people for calm.

Opposition to Hugo Chavez had been growing steadily in Venezuela as the leftist leader who sought closer ties with Cuba and Iraq failed to deliver on promises of economic progress during his three years in office. Labor leaders launched a general strike earlier in the week and Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas en masse Thursday to demand the president's ouster.

Concerns over Venezuela's petroleum production, combined with continuing violence in the Middle East, caused oil prices to surge earlier this week.

A former army paratrooper, in 1992 Mr. Chavez led a failed coup attempt that landed him in prison for several years. In 1998, he launched a presidential campaign in which he pledged to fight for social and economic justice. He was swept into office with the overwhelming support of the country's poor.