Venezuelan Opposition, govt fight over Chavez inauguration



Zeenews Bureau

Caracas: The Opposition has hit out at the Venezuelan government for violating the country’s Constitution by seeking to delay President Hugo Chavez's inauguration on Thursday for a new term.

Chavez is battling cancer and his deteriorating health condition has led to growing uncertainty over the OPEC nation's political future.

The socialist leader's allies said the January 10 inauguration date laid out in the Constitution is just a "formality". They have stressed that Chavez can take fresh oath as and when his health permits.

The President has not been heard for nearly a month. He had undergone a complex cancer surgery in Cuba earlier.

Chavez’s opponents said the delay in inauguration would be running roughshod over the Constitution as the former soldier remains in Havana and appears too weak to return to Venezuela after winning re-election in October for a third six-year term, reported a leading news agency.

"If the President of the Republic does not take office (on January 10), the country cannot be left in a power vacuum," said Tomas Guanipa of the opposition Justice First party, insisting that the head of Congress, Diosdado Cabello, should be sworn in temporarily.

The dispute centres on an article of the Constitution that says a president-elect should be sworn in on January 10, but does not say what happens if the inauguration does not take place that date.

(With Agency inputs)