By Mirembe Martina
There is high tension in Venezuela after the country’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of government to postpone the swearing in ceremony which was supposed to take place today.
Venezuelan president, President Hugo Chavez is at the moment sick and has been out of the public eye for quite some time. Today’s swearing in ceremony was going to see him begin his fourth term as president. The ruling, although decided upon by court has been referred to as unconstitutional by some legal fraternities.
Supreme Court President, Luisa Estela Morales said Wednesday that Chavez’s absence is acceptable given that his service will be uninterrupted and therefore does not fall under constitutional guidelines that could have forced him to attend the swearing-in ceremony or relinquish power.
“Although Jan. 10 marks the beginning of a new constitutional period, a new swearing-in of the president is not necessary in [Chavez's] status as president-elect because there is no interruption in the exercise of his authority,” Morales said. Chavez “is not a new president who has to take possession, he is the president whose performance has been approved by the people.”
The Venezuelan Constitution calls for presidents to be sworn in at the National Assembly on Jan. 10, but also provides an alternative in which the Supreme Court conducts the inauguration “if for any unforeseen reason” the congressional ceremony cannot take place. To have the Supreme Court administer the oath or delay the swearing-in, the president-elect must ask for a temporary postponement.
Government officials say Chavez is in Cuba recovering from surgery and is in possession of his mental faculties but officials say he is suffering from “respiratory insufficiency”. He was last seen or heard from Dec. 11 which some Venezuelans think that could mean he is comatose and thus unable to govern, which would require a new presidential election.
The Vice President, Nicolas Maduro is to rule on behalf of Chavez until he is able to rule once again.