Hugo Chavez swearing-in postponed due to illness
The inauguration of the elected Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, due to take place on the 10th of January has been postponed as a result of Chavez’s continuing illness.
Still being treated in Cuba for a lung infection following surgery related to his cancer, Chavez remains unable to travel currently, making an inauguration ceremony in Venezuela impossible for the time being.
The decision made by legislators to postpone the inauguration, thus giving the ailing President time to recover, has led to division in the country with many in the opposition party, including party leader Henrique Capriles, according to BBC reports, calling this division a constitutional crisis due to the perceived manipulation of the constitution on the part of the incumbent government.
Indeed, while the opposition party cite Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution that declares “when there is an absolute absence of the President – elect before taking office, there shall be a new election…within the next 30 days”, the government insist that Chavez’s absence is only temporary and cite Article 234 that allows for the Presidency to be filled by the elect Vice President for a period of 90 days.
While opinion is divided over whether to call Chavez’s absence absolute or temporary, no headway can be made in finding a resolution and the question of who will govern the country remains unanswered.
The likelihood of elections being held, however, is being described as tenuous with the opposition arguing that the incumbent government’s mandate should expire on the 10th and that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, should occupy the role of President until new elections are held.
However, Angel Gonzalez and Kejal Vyas of The Wall Street Journal report that the Supreme Court are unlikely to rule in favour of this unless directly requested by Chavez or in light of the President’s death.
Although the focus in recent months has been on whether Chavez is healthy enough to run a country, nothing has been disclosed about the seriousness of his illness or even the type of cancer the President is battling.
Reports worldwide, therefore, have varied considerably and reports are reduced to mere speculation at this point in time. The Supreme Court plan to meet on Wednesday at 14:00 GMT to decide what action should be taken. Until then, the fate of the Venezuelan government remains unclear.