Venezuela postpones inauguration for cancer-stricken Chavez
CARACAS (REUTERS) - Venezuela will postpone the inauguration of President Hugo Chavez for a new term due to health problems, the government said on Tuesday, another sign the socialist leader's cancer may be bringing an end to his 14 years in power.
The 58-year-old former soldier, who has dominated the South American Opec nation since 1999, has not been heard from since surgery on Dec 11 in Cuba - his fourth operation since he was diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer in June 2011.
The announcement outraged opposition leaders who insist that Mr Chavez must be sworn in before the National Assembly on Jan 10, as laid out in the Constitution, or temporarily step aside and leave an ally in power.
"The commander president wants us to inform that, based on his medical team's recommendations, the post-operative recovery should extend past Jan 10," said Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, Mr Chavez's chosen successor, in a letter read to the legislature.