CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The president of Venezuela's National Assembly is floating the idea of postponing President Hugo Chavez's Jan. 10 inauguration while he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba.
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello told reporters Tuesday that it was simply his personal opinion and not an official proposal.
"You can't tie the will of the people to a date," Cabello said in remarks published Wednesday by the newspaper El Nacional. "My idea is that we can't see the laws and the constitution from the restrictive point of view."
The constitution says the president should be sworn in for a new term on Jan. 10. But Information Minister Ernesto Villegas last week said that if it was not possible for Chavez to return in time, Venezuelans should understand.
Cabello noted the constitution also says that if a president is unable to be sworn in by the National Assembly, he may be sworn in by the Supreme Court. "And it doesn't put a date" for that, he said.
Former Supreme Court magistrate Roman Duque Corredor has ruled out the possibility of authorities going to Cuba for a swearing-in, saying a president cannot take the oath of office outside Venezuela. A president can be sworn in even if temporarily incapacitated, but would need to be conscious and in Venezuela, he said.
If a president-elect dies or is declared incapacitated before the swearing-in, the constitution says the National Assembly president would temporarily take charge of the government and a new presidential vote would have to be held within 30 days.
Cabello is one of the few government officials who have traveled to Cuba since Chavez's surgery Dec. 11, and his comments carry weight with the president's United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Cabello has been a close ally of Chavez throughout his presidency and is an influential vice president of the party.
The 58-year-old president has not spoken publicly since his surgery for pelvic cancer, and on Tuesday the government said he had a respiratory infection, though it was controlled.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.