Venezuela First Lady Seeking Office

Wednesday May 26, 1999 3:30 am

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's first lady announced Tuesday she will run for a seat on a constituent assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution - the latest move by President Hugo Chavez to keep the assembly from falling into opposition hands.

Marisabel de Chavez, a former radio newscaster, announced her candidacy at Simon Bolivar International Airport as the presidential couple prepared to leave for a five-day trip to Colombia and Mexico.

"I'm responding to a call that the country is making," Mrs. Chavez, 33, told reporters. "I plan to fight with all my heart to transform this nation and to fight within the constituent assembly to defend the rights of the family, children, women and the poorest of the poor."

On Tuesday, the president also accepted the resignations of six military officials who plan to run for the assembly. In the past week, six of Chavez's Cabinet ministers have resigned to launch their candidacies as well.

Venezuelans will choose 131 assembly members in elections set for July 25.