Venezuela opposition: Chavez secrecy feeding rumours
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's opposition on Wednesday once again criticised the secrecy surrounding the condition of President Hugo Chavez more than three weeks after his cancer surgery in Cuba.
Opposition coalition leader Ramon Guillermo Aveledo said at a news conference that the information provided by government officials "continues to be insufficient."
Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the December 11 operation, and Vice President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said the president's condition remained "delicate" due to complications arising from a respiratory infection.
Maduro also urged Venezuelans to ignore rumours about Chavez's condition. Aveledo said the opposition has been respectful during Chavez's illness but that "the secrecy is the source of the rumours."
"They should tell the truth," Aveledo said, noting that Maduro had pledged to provide full reports about Chavez's condition. He reiterated the opposition's call for the government to release a medical report, and said all indications are that Chavez won't be able to be sworn in to begin a new term on January 10.
If Chavez can't take office on that date, Aveledo said the constitution is clear that the National Assembly president should then take over temporarily until a new election is held. He said what happens next in Venezuela should be guided by "the truth and the constitution."
If Chavez dies or is unable to continue in office, the Venezuelan Constitution says a new election should be held within 30 days.
With rumours swirling that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Maduro said on Tuesday that he had met with the president twice, had spoken with him and would return to Caracas on Wednesday.
Before his operation, Chavez acknowledged he faced risks and designated Maduro as his successor, telling supporters they should vote for the vice president if a new presidential election was necessary.