The Venezuelan government has proposed a delay to President Hugo Chavez’s inauguration as he is receiving cancer treatment in Cuba.
The socialist leader’s allies have said the January 10 date laid out in the constitution in just a “formality” and insist he should take office when his health allows.
But opposition leader Henrique Capriles has spoken out against this saying:
“(I ask) that a government leader speaks honestly to Venezuelans to tell them: ‘listen, within 48 hours the President of the Republic can not be present, the President of the Republic is in this condition and we can not talk with him.’ And this is the reason I’m saying to everyone the answer we have is in the Constitution.’”
The dispute revolves around an article in the constitution, which was written in 1999 during Chavez’s first term, that says the president-elect should be sworn in on January 10.
It does not state what happens if the ceremony does not take place on that date however, leading to contrasting interpretations.
This has generated a fierce debate with the opposition highlighting a clause that new elections must be held within 30 days if the president dies or is “permanently incapacitated” either before taking office or in the first four years.
Hugo Chavez was re-elected for a third six-year term in October but soon fell sick with cancer which has been battling for a number of years.
The former soldier has not been seen or heard from in over a month following complex surgery.