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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 18:53 GMT
Retired officers warn Venezuela's Chavez


A group of retired army officers in Venezuela have denounced what they say is the increasingly political use of the armed forces under President Hugo Chavez.

Speaking at a news conference in Caracas, the officers said discontent was growing among the military and this could lead to a coup.

The group , which calls itself the Institutional Military Front, also accused Mr Chavez, a former paratrooper, of wearing a uniform during specifically political events.

The officers, who include a former defence minister and vice-admiral, said they had joined together to defend the institutional and autonomous nature of the armed forces.

Correspondents say that with general elections just three months away, there has been increasing criticism of Mr Chavez, and rumours of coup attempts.

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