Chavez Can Stay in Power
The London Telegraph
Venezuela's Supreme Court is poised to rule on whether Hugo Chavez can continue in power despite the likelihood that he will miss being sworn in for a new term on Thursday.
A constitutional crisis is looming over the matter as President Chavez lies in a hospital bed in Cuba and has put parliamentarians at loggerheads.
Mr. Chavez, who is being treated at a medical centre in Havana, having suffered complications following a fourth round of cancer surgery a month ago, is due to take a new oath of office on January 10.
His closest aides have called for a postponement of the ceremony calling it a "mere formality" and asking for the status quo to continue until their leader has a chance to recover.
But opposition groups have insisted that such a move would be against the constitution, which states that new elections must be held within 30 days if the president dies or is "permanently incapacitated" either before he takes office or in the first four years of his six-year term.
But the wording of the constitution, which was written in 1999 during Mr. Chavez's first term in office, has left its meaning open to debate.
The nation's Supreme Court is reported to be preparing its arguments to determine the course of action when the January 10 deadline passes.
It seems likely that it will recommend an indefinite postponement of the inauguration and for temporary power to be handed to Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who Mr Chavez, 58, named as his chosen successor ahead of the latest surgery.
The last time the Supreme Court ruled contrary to the government position was, according to Spain's El Pais, in 2003.
Venezuelan opposition has called for public protests if the inauguration date passes without power being handed to the speaker of the National Assembly for a caretaker period of 30 days until new elections.
Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have waded into the argument, criticising the government for failing to provide more details about the President's condition and warning that the country's stability is at risk.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 01/08/2013
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