Venezuela Postpones Inauguration for Ailing Chavez

Venezuela's parliament has approved a measure that will allow the country's ailing leader, Hugo Chavez, to take the presidential oath of office after the official inauguration day, Parliament President Diosdado Cabello said Tuesday. The leftist president has been battling complications from his fourth cancer surgery, which he underwent in Cuba on Dec. 11, and was due to be sworn in for his fourth term Jan. 10. But the Venezuelan ministry of information said last week that Chavez's recuperation had been hampered by a "severe pulmonary infection." Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez has hand-picked as his successor should he be unable to lead the country, had earlier said that although Chavez hoped to attend the ceremony, it could be delayed to a later date. The country's opposition argued, however, that the constitution actually designates Jan. 10 as the official inauguration date and that if Chavez were unable to return to Venezuela to be sworn in, he would have to temporarily step aside. But Parliament approved an agreement that would allow Chavez to take the oath of office before the Supreme Court when he was well enough to do so. Meanwhile, lawmakers have been bracing for the possibility that Chavez might be unable to rule at all. On Saturday, they re-elected Diosdado Cabello, a staunch Chavez ally, to head the National Assembly, putting him in line to be the caretaker president should Chavez not recover, Reuters reported.

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