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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Sunday named a former foreign minister as his party’s candidate for a special gubernatorial election in the home state of his mentor, Hugo Chávez, that was scheduled after the opposition contender in November’s regular contest was retroactively disqualified.

Maduro declared Jorge Arreaza as the ruling party’s candidate via a livestream connected to a gymnasium in the rural state of Barinas packed with supporters who erupted in cheers as their new candidate promised them a comprehensive review of their communities’ needs.

The announcement came less than a week after the country’s highest court disqualified Freddy Superlano as he was leading the vote count, a move that has become emblematic of what the opposition says are unfair election conditions. The state in northwest Venezuela has long been considered a bastion of Chávismo., which made Superlano’s potential win particularly hard to swallow for the ruling party.

Superlano was ahead by less than 1 percentage point in the Nov. 21 race against incumbent Argenis Chávez, one of Hugo Chávez’s brothers, when he was disqualified. Argenis along with Adán Chávez and father Hugo de los Reyes Chávez have served as governors of the state of Barinas since 1998.

The opposition announced Saturday that Aurora Silva, Superlano’s wife, would take his place in the election. But Superlano’s campaign late Sunday said Silva appeared to have been disqualified but did not immediately provide details.

Leaders of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela convened in Barinas this week to decide on a new candidate after Argenis Chávez announced his decision to resign as governor and not enter the race again. They needed a unifying candidate after many blamed the election’s results on an internal rift.

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