Venezuela’s Maduro Accuses U.S. of “Plot” to Kill Rival

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -

Venezuela’s acting president urged President Barack Obama to stop what he called a plot by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency to kill his opposition rival and trigger a coup ahead of an April 14 election.

Nicolas Maduro said the plan was to blame the murder on the OPEC nation’s government and to “fill Venezuelans with hate” as they prepare to vote following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Maduro first mentioned a plot against his rival, Henrique Capriles, last week. He blamed it on former Bush administration officials Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. Both rejected the claim as untrue, outrageous and defamatory.

“I call on President Obama — Roger Noriega, Otto Reich, officials at the Pentagon and at the CIA are behind a plan to assassinate the right-wing presidential candidate to create chaos,” Maduro said in a media interview broadcast on Sunday.

The United States denied the charge. “We categorically reject allegations of U.S. government involvement in any plot to harm anyone in Venezuela,” a State Department spokesman said.