Corruption accusations, insults flying as Venezuela politics heat up amid Chavez's absence

Corruption accusations and insults are flying between allies and opponents of President Hugo Chavez nearly two months after the Venezuelan leader disappeared from the political stage to undergo cancer surgery in Cuba.

Analysts say the increasingly heated attacks between the two camps appear to be a preamble to what many expect to be a bruising campaign ahead of a possible new presidential election this year.

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello on Tuesday night accused three lawmakers in the party Justice First of involvement in corruption.

Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges responded on Wednesday saying members of the party are totally innocent and that senior government officials are the ones who have enriched themselves during Chavez's 14 years in office.