Venezuelan supreme court backs Chávez on inaugural

Venezuela’s supreme court says President Hugo Chávez can legally delay his upcoming inauguration.

Wednesday’s decision comes a day after Venezuelan officials announced that President Chávez will miss Thursday’s inauguration for his fourth 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 Chávez 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 Jan. 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 Chávez’ backers to take to the streets today as part of a massive show of support.

Chávez 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 Chávez has a lung infection connected to his cancer treatment and that his condition is stable.

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