Venezuelan authorities have formally charged opposition leader Manuel Rosales with corruption stemming from his tenure as governor of the state of Zulia.
Federal prosecutors took action Thursday against Rosales, nearly three weeks after he was elected mayor of Maracaibo, the country's second-largest city. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office tells the Reuters news agency Rosales was charged with "illicit enrichment," but did not elaborate. Rosales - who was accompanied by supporters - denied the allegations, calling them a political lynching.
Rosales served as governor of Zulia prior to his election last month as Maracaibo mayor. He has been a leading opponent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Chavez in the 2006 presidential election.
In local elections last month, the Venezuelan opposition made modest gains, winning five of the country's 22 states and the mayor's seat in the capital, Caracas.
President Chavez has been pushing for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to stay in office as long as he can keep winning elections.
Last year, Venezuelans narrowly rejected such a proposal in a referendum.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.