The Venezuelan government is organizing a massive turnout for Thursday January 10 in support of re-re-elected president Hugo Chavez with the attendance of several Latinamerican leaders in what has been described as a “virtual taking office” ceremony.
On that day Chavez according to the Venezuelan constitution should assume his role as re-elected president for the 2013/19 mandate, which he cannot due to him being in hospital in Havana.
“We are calling on the people for a grand gathering at the Miraflores Palace (Government House) in support of our leader Chavez on Thursday” said the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly Diosdado Cabello.
He added that the event would include leaders from “friendly neighbouring countries” who are to go to Venezuela to support Chavez, currently recovering in Havana after a fourth and complicated surgery for cancer.
Even when the constitution establishes that the taking office ceremony must be celebrated on 10 January, top officials have said that the date is a ‘mere formalism’, while the opposition demands a medical team to make sure President Chavez can really rule.
“There is no temporary absence, or absolute absence, there is no taking office of the Executive by the president of the National Assembly or room for any of the suggestions floated”, insisted Cabello in reference to the two extraordinary conditions contemplated in the Venezuelan constitution.
“The (re-re-elected) President is in full exercise and not only that: he was authorized by a unanimous National Assembly to complete his treatment in Cuba. When he returns he has the chance to take the oath before the Supreme Justice Tribunal”, said Attorney General Cilia Flores.
Two of the leaders mentioned as attending the ‘virtual ceremony’ are Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez and Uruguay’s Jose Mujica. In Buenos Aires the government confirmed that the presidential tour to the mid and far east will include a first call in Havana.
Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales, plus Cuban hosts Fidel and Raul Castro have visited Chavez in hospital and according to reliable sources in Caracas, Cristina Fernandez recently made a secret trip to Havana.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff’s main advisor in foreign policy Marco Aurelio García revealed on Monday that Brasilia supports the Venezuelan government plans to postpone the new mandate oath ceremony.
Constitution experts have insisted that it is the president of the Legislative who should take control of the presidential office while a medical team decides whether Chavez is in conditions to rule. But they also admit that with no clear succession law, there are several legal vacuums.
However opposition leader Henrique Capriles who lost to Chavez in October’s presidential election complains that “we have a government that does not govern, completely paralyzed with no leadership to make the relevant decisions”
But sometime this week the Constitutional Committee from the Supreme Tribunal of Justice will me making a statement on what should be considered the correct interpretation of the controversial articles referred to the oath of office, and the two absences: temporal and absolute.
The Venezuelan constitution enumerates the causes for the absolute absence and they are the president’s death, resignation or removal, physical or mental permanent incapacity, abandoning the post or popular revocation.
But the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the National Assembly, both dominated by pro-Chavez nominees are responsible for determining the absence of incapacity of the president following on a medical report. And according to the latest release Chavez is trying to recover from a very serious infection which has caused the respiratory insufficiency.
Chavez who has been fighting cancer for the last 18 months named Vice-president Nicolas Maduro as his successor before leaving for Cuba and called on Venezuelans to vote for him if new elections are convened.