Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez(JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- The Venezuelan government on Tuesday said Hugo Chavez won't be able to attend the scheduled swearing-in ceremony.
The president underwent his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba last month and hasn't spoken publicly in a month.
The Venezuelan Constitution says the presidential oath should be taken before lawmakers in the National Assembly on Jan. 10. It says the president may also take the oath before the Supreme Court if he's unable to be sworn in before the assembly. Officials argue that clause does not explicitly mention a date, though opponents say the meaning is clear.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro has called the swearing-in a "formality" and said the opposition is erroneously interpreting the constitution. Chavez has said that if he's unable to continue on as president, Maduro should take his place and run in an election to replace him.