Nicolas Maduro steamrolled toward his inauguration as President on Thursday, pushing past opposition demands for a recount in elections to replace Hugo Chavez despite days of flaring tensions.

Venezuelan fighter jets streaked across Caracas in an apparent rehearsal for Friday’s swearing-in ceremonies.

Mr. Maduro, Chavez’s political heir, appeared to have regained control of the situation after post-election protests left eight people dead and more than 60 injured.

“We have defeated the coup d’etat ,” Mr. Maduro has declared, while accusing his rival Henrique Capriles of “sowing violence”.

Mr. Maduro was expected to receive the backing of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, whose leaders were holding a special meeting in Lima, Peru, on Thursday devoted to the political crisis in the oil-rich Caribbean country. Peru said Mr. Maduro is expected to attend.

Nearly all Latin American countries have recognised Mr. Maduro’s election and several leaders were taking advantage of the summit to travel together to Caracas for his inauguration.

Preparations were underway to swear Maduro in with pomp and circumstance on Friday to complete Chavez’s six-year term, cut short by his death from cancer March 5 after 14 years in power.

Mr. Maduro, campaigning as the comandante ’s political “son”, barely won Sunday's elections, 50.8 to 49 per cent, leaving him with an uncertain mandate.

Mr. Capriles, claiming irregularities in the vote, on Wednesday submitted a formal request for a recount to the National Election Council, which certified Maduro as the winner.

Mr. Maduro has the backing of the Supreme Court, which said it was impossible to conduct a manual recount, as the opposition has demanded.

The United States has supported the demand for an “audit” of the vote, a position also supported by the European Union which took “note” of Mr. Maduro’s election.

Meanwhile, Mr. Capriles was awaiting an answer to his request from the National Election Council.