Hugo Chavez makes Twitter u-turn

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is to open a Twitter account, despite previously comparing users of the service to 'terrorists', according to reports.

"Comandante Chavez is going to open his Twitter account soon to wage the battle online," the country's telecoms regulator, Diosdado Cabello, said on state TV, Bloomberg reported. "I’m sure he’ll break records for numbers of followers."

The increasingly authoritarian socialist Venezuelan president has been waging war with anti-Chavez elements of the media for years. In recent months, the battle has become more serious.

In January, his decision to close down five dissenting TV stations led to bloody riots, organised by students using Twitter and Facebook, leading Chavez to describe use of the services as "terrorism".

While a handful of world leaders, including Barack Obama, are nominally Twitter users, the service is more commonly associated with anti-establishment protest, such as last summer's Iranian "Twitter Revolution" or the current love affair with Nick Clegg in the UK.

Venezuela has an election scheduled for this September.