(NEW YORK) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won’t be taking the oath for a fourth term in office on Thursday, his government officials have said. The Venezuelan National Assembly approved the ailing president’s request to postpone his inauguration, BBC News reports.
Mystery has lingered around the exact status of his condition in recent weeks. President Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11 for what the government of Venezuela described as a severe lung infection. He has not been seen in public since his operation.
According to several news sources, Chavez, who has undergone four cancer-related surgeries since June 2011, was put in an induced coma because of weak vital signs and remains on life support.
Meanwhile, family members of the socialist president maintain that Chavez is in stable condition and urged supporters not to believe any rumors.
While lawmakers voted to allow Chavez as much recovery time as he needs, Venezuela’s opposition is calling the Supreme Court to rule on what steps to take in the president’s absence at the inauguration, BBC reports. Government officials say the ceremony is just a formality.
It is the opposition’s hope, according to BBC, that President Chavez will be called absent so that Diosdado Cabello, chairman of the National Assembly, can be declared the interim president.
Already there are conspiracy theories that doctors are keeping Chavez alive so that Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who is more pro-Cuba than Cabello, will become the next president.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN