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'He's back!' Chavez in Venezuela after cancer surgery

Published on Feb 19, 2013 5:54 AM
Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez cheer outside the military hospital after his surprise return to Caracas February 18, 2013. Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba on Monday more than two months after surgery for cancer that has jeopardized his 14-year rule of the South American OPEC member. The 58-year-old socialist leader underwent a six-hour operation in Cuba on December 11, 2012. He had not been seen or heard in public since then until photos were published of him on Friday. The banner reads: "Welcome commander". -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CARACAS (AFP) - President Hugo Chavez surprised and in many cases delighted Venezuelans by returning home on Monday, albeit to an uncertain future, ending a more than two-month absence in Cuba for cancer treatment.

Even as passionate Chavez supporters took to the streets in noisy celebration, and foreign dignitaries congratulated Mr Chavez and urged him to rest, the next step for the oil-rich country remained unclear.

It was not immediately known when, if at all, Mr Chavez would be sworn in by the Supreme Court to begin the new term he won in elections late last year.

A Supreme Court source said the tribunal is ready and waiting for the go-ahead from Mr Chavez and his medical team. The ceremony does not have to be public, the source said, suggesting it could be done with Chavez lying on his back in a hospital bed.

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