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Hugo Chavez to miss swearing-in ceremony in Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez, recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, is unable to take Venezuela's oath of office.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves to supporters during a campaign rally in Guarenas on September 29, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, won’t attend Thursday’s scheduled swearing-in ceremony, the government said today.

Doctors operated on Chavez on Dec. 11 in Cuba, and a lung infection has kept him there since, Reuters reported.

The government made the statement to Congress today. Chavez, Venezuela's president since 1999, has required four cancer surgeries.

There was no timetable given for a rescheduled ceremony, according to Reuters.

"(Chavez's) medical team has recommended that the postoperative recovery should extend past January 10," said a letter from Vice President Nicolas Maduro, read out by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

More from GlobalPost: Diosdado Cabello: Chavez's potential replacement?

Now, with the incumbent unable to take the oath of office, politicians from both sides are unclear as to where this leaves Venezuela.

Henrico Capriles, leader of the opposition, called for the National Assembly speaker to act as caretaker until new elections are held within 30 days.

However, the government says taking the oath is merely ceremony and the dates and circumstances are flexible, BBC reported.

Maduro suggested Chavez can be sworn in by the supreme court; however, lawyer Carlos Ayala told NPR that the government's argument “doesn’t make sense.”

“We elect a president for a mandate to take place beginning one day and finishing one day,” he told NPR.

“That’s what constitutional democracy is all about.”

More from GlobalPost: Is Venezuela harboring Hezbollah?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130108/hugo-chavez-miss-swearing-ceremony-Venezuela