Venezuelan opposition seeks 'truth' on Hugo Chavez's health
Venezuela's opposition has said cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez is unable to fulfil his duties and that the government should temporarily hand his full powers over to Vice-President Nicolas Maduro.
Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, executive secretary of the opposition alliance known as the Democratic Unity Table, said the government should "tell the truth" about Chavez's state of health. The self-declared socialist, who is supposed to be sworn-in for his next term on Thursday, has not been seen in public since alighting from a plane in Havana on December 10 to undergo a fourth cancer-related surgery.
"To attempt to make people think that the president is currently in control of his functions is an enormous irresponsibility because it's obvious and evident that he isn't," Aveledo said.
Maduro said he would return to Caracas after spending time at Chavez's bedside during a four-day visit to Cuba.
He said the 58-year-old suffered renewed complications from a respiratory infection after his latest operation.
Aveledo cited an article in Venezuela's constitution that states that a "temporary absence" should be declared and full presidential powers transferred to the vice-president for as much as 90 days if the president is away from the country for more than five days. During frequent absences for treatment in Cuba since June2011, Chavez has repeatedly declined to hand over power, saying he could govern from the communist island.
Chavez's brother-in-law, Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, wrote yesterday on his Twitter account that the president's condition is "stable" yet "delicate".
If Chavez's absence is deemed permanent, the assembly president must call for an election within 30 days.