The Venezuelan Supreme Court says President Hugo Chavez can legally postpone the Thursday inauguration as the current government remains in power. On Wednesday, Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales, following a unanimous decision by the panel, also ruled out medical checks for the president’s scheduled inauguration ceremony. "The oath-taking of the re-elected president can be carried out at a time after January 10 before the Supreme Court, if it is not done on the said day before the National Assembly," the ruling said.
As the president has been recovering from an illness and the government would be renewing its term, Morales said, "there is not even a temporary absence” of Chavez from taking the oath.Until Chavez recovers, current government officials "will continue fully exercising their functions under the principle of administrative continuity," it said. Opposition groups of the government earlier on Wednesday requested the Supreme Court to decide on the ruling. The ruling comes as government officials pointed out the constitution allows the court to swear in a new president without a time limitation for a leave of absence, which the congress voted for on Tuesday. The Supreme Court’s decision comes as Chavez continues to gain support from South American allies. Foreign Policy Advisor to Brazilian President, Marco Aurelio Garcia, on Tuesday said that -- on behalf of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff -- Brazil supports the postponing of the inaugural ceremony. Chavez, who first came to power in 1999, was re-elected to a new six-year term in October, 2012. However, a month before the planned inauguration he underwent a fourth round of cancer surgery in Cuba’s capital Havana. GVN/SZH