Venezuelan Assembly Postpones Ailing Chavez's Inauguration



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.

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.

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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