Hugo Chavez body will be embalmed and put on display "for eternity", acting President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.
Huge crowds are still waiting to pay their respects to Chavez after his death this week, and Maduro said the move - reminiscent of the treatment of Communist leaders Lenin, Stalin and Mao after their deaths - would help keep the late president's self-declared socialist revolution alive.
"It has been decided that the body of the comandante will be embalmed so that it remains eternally on view for the people at the museum," Maduro told state TV.
Maduro said Chavez's official funeral would go ahead on Friday, attended by about 30 leaders from around the world and that his body would then lie in state for a further seven days.
Huge lines snaked around the academy on Thursday as tens of thousands of Venezuelans shuffled forward to salute, raise clenched fists or make the sign of the cross over Chavez's casket.
One government source told Reuters that Chavez slipped into a coma on Monday and died the next day of respiratory failure after a rapid deterioration from the weekend, when he had held a five-hour meeting with ministers at his bedside.
The cancer had spread to his lungs, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
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