Ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will remain in power even if he fails to attend a ceremony next week in which he’s scheduled to be sworn in for another term, his Vice President Nicolas Maduro said.
Opponents of the socialist president, who is recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, are distorting the constitution by saying that Chavez must show up for the Jan. 10 swearing-in ceremony or be declared ineligible to govern, Maduro said last night. The nation’s charter is flexible, and if needed the Supreme Court can set the date, manner and location Chavez will be sworn in for the third, six-year term he won in October by a landslide, he said.
“Chavez on that day remains in power and will be sworn in whenever possible,” Maduro said in an hour-long interview broadcast on state television, warning the opposition against trying to carry out a “coup” by interpreting to its advantage the charter’s provisions for a presidential succession. “The constitution speaks for itself.”
The comments by Maduro set the stage for a legal dispute with the opposition and signal that the ailing leader’s allies are unlikely to push him out of office even as calls for a snap election grow louder. Chavez hasn’t been seen in public since traveling to Havana Dec. 10 for his fourth surgery in 18 months, and government reports that he’s having trouble breathing as a result of a lung infection are fueling speculation that he’s unable to ever serve again.
CONTINUED at Bloomberg.