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Venezuela Court Rules in Favor of Chavez Inauguration Delay

by VOA News January 09, 2013

Venezuela's Supreme Court says President Hugo Chavez can legally delay his upcoming inauguration.

Wednesday's decision comes a day after Venezuelan officials announced that President Chavez will miss Thursday's inauguration for his third term because he is still in Cuba following cancer surgery.

National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello read a letter to lawmakers Tuesday, saying doctors recommend that Chavez not return home. Cabello said the president will be sworn in by the Supreme Court at a later date.

The opposition was outraged by the delay and had argued that the president's inability to take the oath of office on January 10, as laid out in the constitution, requires him to step down.

But supporters of the 58-year-old leader and some legal experts insist the constitution allows the Supreme Court to swear in the president without mentioning a specific date.

The government has called on Chavez' backers to take to the streets Thursday as part of a massive show of support.

Chavez has not been seen in public for a month. His exact condition and what kind of cancer he has is unclear. The president has undergone four cancer surgeries in Cuba.

Venezuela's information minister said Monday that Chavez has a lung infection connected to his cancer treatment and that his condition is stable.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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