BBC, EL NACIONAL, EL UNIVERSAL, ULTIMAS NOTICIAS (Venezuela)
CARACAS- After a three-hour debate, the Venezuelan National Assembly has approved the request of President Hugo Chávez to postpone the inauguration for his new term in office, which was scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 10.
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Photo: Wilson Dias/ABr via Wikipedia
According to the BBC, the Venezuelan constitution states: Article 231: The president-elect shall take office on 10 January of the first year of their constitutional term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly. If for any reason, (they) cannot be sworn in before the National Assembly, they shall take the oath of office before the Supreme Court.
As Chávez is recovering in Cuba from a lung infection after his cancer surgery, neither option is feasible.
According to El Universal, the Assembly has given Chávez as much time as he needs to recover. National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello – a staunch Chavez ally – said that the date was not immovable and that the ceremony was just a formality. He pointed out that in 2000, the president was sworn in on Aug. 19.
Although Chávez appointed Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his successor should anything happen to him, the Constitution states that a chosen successor can only replace the President for 90 days, and a further 90 if it is voted by the National Assembly.
Últimas Noticias reports that during the debate, Deputy Julio Borges of the Primero Justicia party said that the National Assembly President could take the possession of the post. According to El Nacional, this fact was brought up 15 times but Diosdado Cabello, who was president in 2002 (albeit just for a few hours – the world's second shortest presidency), refused to even consider himself for the job.
On Tuesday, Opposition leader Henrique Capriles had said that Chavez's term officially ends on Jan. 10, and that the Supreme Court should "take a position on what the text of the constitution says.” Other opposition leaders have said that the inauguration could not be legally postponed.
Cabello criticized the opposition and declared: "Beware! We know what we will do. On the day that it does happen, Nicolas (Maduro) and I will be together with the people to defend the Constitution for the Commander".
The Assembly ended allowing Chávez all the time he needs to take care of his health and to return when he is better.