Created on: January 06, 2013 Last Updated: January 07, 2013
Just days from his supposed inauguration on January 10, 2013, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lies in a Cuban hospital bed in an induced coma, fighting for his life, reports UK’s “Telegraph.” Some reports suggest that the South American leader is on life-support machines and is suffering breathing problems from “a severe lung infection.”
Supporters in Caracas’s Plaza Bolivar have been keeping vigil for the ailing president, according the “Guardian.” One supporter told the British newspaper, “We are all very confused. We have no idea what to expect. I pray for his recovery, but I am expecting the worst.”
With little news coming forth from the government, gossip and speculation are rampant. There have been suggestions that Chavez is already dead, and after reports surfaced from a Spanish newspaper, Venezuela’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro vehemently challenged the news, advising his nation to disregard such “enemy rumors.”
Constitutional crisis for government of Venezuela
It seems extremely unlikely that Hugo Chavez will be able to attend the inauguration at the National Assembly or even be sworn in for his next six-year term from his Cuban bed. No one has seen or heard from the president since early December 2012, when he went for emergency cancer surgery. His post-surgery condition of respiratory distress appears to be dire, which may result in a real constitutional crisis.
Notes the Chief Foreign Correspondent of the “Telegraph” David Blair, “If he is incapacitated in a hospital bed in Cuba, he won’t be able to go (to the inauguration). But if he’s alive he can’t hand over to his successor. So you have a situation where Venezuela will have to have an inauguration of some kind next Thursday, but we have no idea who will actually be inaugurated as president.”
Constitution calls for new election
According to the Venezuelan Constitution’s Article 233, when there is an “absolute absence” of the president-to-be, there is the need for a new election within 30 days. It is likely that an interim president would rule during the new election cycle, and that Vice President Maduro would run for Chavez’s seat.
It seems more likely, however, that some sort of temporary stop-gap will be established in its stead. For example, it is possible that the head of the National Assembly or even Vice President Maduro could fill the post for at least 90 days without constitutional action, provided there is support within the National Assembly. Of course the opposition party may be looking for an opening, but national support is clearly behind the ailing Chavez at the moment.
Noted Maduro, “We’re more unified than ever. We swore in front of Commander Chavez that we will be unified at the side of our people.”
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