Venezuela President Hugo Chávez has decided to appoint Elías Jaua as the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolás Maduro during the Tuesday session at the National Assembly when he submitted the Yearly Report for fiscal year 2012.
Maduro had kept the foreign minister’s post after his appointment as vice president in October.
The session was led by Congress Speaker Diosdado Cabello. The president of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), Luisa Estella Morales; Adelina González, the president of the Repubilcan Moral Council, and the president of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, also attended the event.
Maduro took the place of ailing President Hugo Chavez to deliver the short speech. He submitted the report in writing from Chavez’s government while the president remained in Cuba undergoing treatment after his fourth cancer-related surgery. Opposition politicians argued that the annual speech should have been postponed because the president is supposed to deliver it, and about a dozen walked out in protest.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said the naming of Jaua as foreign minister should be reviewed because it was unclear under what authority the vice president was acting when such powers belong to the president alone.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez dismissed the opposition’s allegations that the government was acting illegally by going ahead with the special legislative session.
‘‘There’s no constitutional controversy,’’ Ramirez told reporters, calling the politicians who walked out ‘‘the most extremist sector of the far right.’’
It was the second time in less than a week that Maduro has presided over an event that would normally have been led by Chavez. Maduro says Chavez remains in charge as president, though it is unclear when the president might be well enough to address Venezuelans or return home.
During last January’s the state of the union address, Chavez spoke for nine hours before lawmakers even as he was undergoing cancer treatments.
This year, Maduro spoke for about 15 minutes and turned over to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello two red books containing the government’s annual report.
Maduro cited a clause in the constitution that says the vice president may present reports to the legislature if asked to do so by the president.
‘‘Nicolas didn’t come to take the place of the president. He came to bring the documents ... under instructions from the president,’’ Cabello told reporters.
Elias Jaua, 44, is a former university professor who served as Vice-President with Chavez from January 2010 to October 2012. He has a Sociology degree from the Central University of Venezuela. In 2000 he was part of the National Legislative Commission and Minister of the Executive branch Secretariat from 2000 to 2001. He was nominated as Venezuelan Ambassador to Argentina in 2002 and later served as Minister of Agriculture before being appointed as Vice-President in January 2010, while remaining Minister of Agriculture.
On 15 December 2011, following a major reshuffle of the Venezuelan political leadership, President Chávez proposed Jaua to be the PSUV candidate for governor of the state of Miranda. He resigned the vice presidency on 13 October 2012 to compete in the election and was replaced by Nicolas Maduro. He lost the election on 16 December 2012 to governor Henrique Capriles, who had stepped down in June 2012 to unsuccessfully challenge Hugo Chávez for president.