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President Hugo Chavez is too ill to attend his inauguration this week, the Venezuelan government announced Tuesday.
In a letter to the National Assembly, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the president's medical team said Chavez's recovery should be extended beyond Thursday – the day he is scheduled to be sworn in. The Associated Press reports: "Maduro said Chavez was invoking a provision in the constitution allowing him to be sworn in before the Supreme Court at a 'later date.'"
Here's more from the AP:
Tensions between the government and opposition have been building in a constitutional dispute over whether the ailing president's swearing-in can legally be postponed. The president underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery in Cuba last month and hasn't spoken publicly in a month.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said earlier Tuesday that Chavez's current term constituionally ends Thursday and that the Supreme Court should rule in the matter. Other opposition leaders have argued that the inauguration cannot legally be put off and that the National Assembly president should take over as interim president if Chavez hasn't returned from Cuba on inauguration day.
Juan Forero reported on the events surrounding Chavez's health and his swearing in on Tuesday's Morning Edition. Here's what he said:
"Never in Chavez's year-and-a-half battle with cancer have officials said what kind of cancer he has or what the prognosis is. Instead, state television plays commercial after commercial showing Chavez with his followers and telling groups of young men to work hard for the betterment of the country. Yet, while heartwarming videos of el Comandante air, government officials have offered signals that Chavez will not return by Thursday to take the oath of office and start his fourth presidential term."