Roundup: Venezuela re-elects parliament speaker amid Chavez health uncertainty
CARACAS, Jan 06, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
Venezuelan lawmakers re-elected
Diosdado Cabello as head of the National Assembly on Saturday,
while ailing President Hugo Chavez was struggling to recover from
his latest cancer surgery in Cuba.
Cabello remained as parliament speaker thanks to the votes of
his majority Socialist United Party of Venezuela (PSUV), putting
him in good position for possible caretaker president.
Under Venezuela's Constitution, new elections will be held
within 30 days if the National Assembly determines a "complete
absence" of the president because of death, physical or mental
impairment or stepping down either before taking office or being
dead during his first four years in office.
If a new election is called, presidential power should be held
temporarily by the speaker of parliament.
The opposition called for naming a replacement for Chavez or
holding a new election as it seems practically impossible that
Chavez is able to take the oath of office as scheduled on Jan. 10
for his third six-year term.
However, Vice President Nicolas Maduro dismissed the allegation
on Friday, saying the ailing president could be sworn in by the
Supreme Court at a later date. This is the latest and clearest
government statement in response to the opposition's calls.
Cabello also said that Chavez "will still be the president
beyond Jan. 10," in his address after his confirmation of
parliament speaker Saturday.
Chavez did not need to take another oath in parliament to
become the president, since he was re-elected, Cabello added.
Chavez has not appeared before the public since he underwent
his fourth cancer surgery on Dec. 11 in the Cuban capital of
The recent government statement described Chavez's respiratory
infection after the surgery as "severe" and confirmed that the
58-year-old president is facing "complications."
Chavez was reelected to another six-year term in October, but
the relapse of cancer forced him to undergo the most difficult
round of surgery in Cuba two months later.
Before his departure for the operation, Chavez said if his
illness prevented him from remaining as president, Maduro should
be the candidate of the ruling United Socialist party of Venezuela
in a new election.
Chavez's health condition is being watched closely by his
allies and members of the opposition amid high uncertainty about
his recovery and Venezuela's political leadership.
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