The Venezuelan Information Minister has hinted that ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may not be well enough to swear-in for his new presidential term, which is scheduled to begin on January 10th.
Although he expressed hope that Chavez would return from Cuba in time, Ernesto Villegas said in a written message on a government website that if Chavez doesn't make it, "our people should be prepared to understand it,” adding it would be irresponsible to hide news about the "delicateness of the current moment and the days to come."
According to the Venezuelan constitution, presidents should be sworn in before the National Assembly, and if that's not possible then before the Supreme Court.
Former Supreme Court magistrate Roman Duque Corredor told the AP that a president cannot delegate the swearing-in to anyone else and cannot take the oath of office outside Venezuela. However, a president could still be sworn in even if temporarily incapacitated, but would need to be conscious and in Venezuela.
If Chavez is declared incapacitated and is unable to be sworn in then the National Assembly president would temporarily take charge of the government and a new presidential vote must be held within 30 days, Duque said.
Some have speculated that this may spark a power struggle, as Chavez has named Vice President Nicolas Maduro his prefered successor, not National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. However, the two appeared side by side in a television appearance in which Maduro said the party was “more united than ever.”
The latest developments come just days before gubernatorial elections throughout the country, sparking speculation they could provide PSUV candidates a boost through widespread sympathy for Chavez or, they could play into the hands of the opposition who are stronger against the party than they are against the president.
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