Court rules Chavez swearing-in delay is legal


Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has accepted a Supreme Court ruling that allows ailing President Hugo Chavez to postpone his inauguration while allowing his government to continue in office. Capriles said on Wednesday that the ruling handed down by the top court “is binding,” but did not end the uncertainties facing the country and challenged Vice President Nicolas Maduro to solve its most pressing problems. “Institutions should not respond to the interests of a government,” he said at a news conference. “Now the ruling has been handed down. There is an interpretation by the Supreme Court,” Capriles said. “The excuses are over, Mr Maduro. Now it falls to you to assume the responsibility of the office and to govern.” Opponents of the president have begun to gather in the capital, Caracas, ahead of a rally scheduled for Thursday morning, local time. Earlier on Wednesday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled that the postponement of Chavez’s swearing-in for the new term was legal. Luisa Morales, the court’s president, gave the judgment at a news conference, saying no new swearing-in was necessary and Chavez remained Venezuela’s president, with Nicolas Maduro also continuing in his role as vice-president. Leaders of the government insisted that, under the circumstances, the president’s current term can be extended beyond the January 10 inauguration date until he is well enough to be sworn in to another six-year term. With a show of hands, the Chavez-controlled assembly approved his open-ended absence. “President Chavez, this honourable assembly grants you all the time that you need to attend to your illness and return to Venezuela when the unexpected cause [of your absence] has disappeared,” Cabello said. Chavez has dominated Venezuela personally and politically since coming to power in 1999.