The Venezuelan government says there is no doubt President Hugo Chavez will stand for re-election next year, despite the fact that he is undergoing further cancer treatment in Cuba. Earlier President Chavez issued an upbeat message ahead of a second day of chemotherapy treatment, saying he would win his battle for life.
Mr Chavez first had surgery in Cuba to remove a tumour last month. His ill health has caused political uncertainty in Venezuela. On Saturday, ahead of his second trip to Cuba, Mr Chavez delegated some of his powers to Vice-President Elias Jaua and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani.
But he resisted calls from opposition politicians to hand over all presidential powers during his absence. Mr Chavez has not disclosed what type of cancer he has or how long he will remain in Cuba this time.
He said doctors had found no more malignant cells after surgery to remove a tumour, only saying he would be away for “a few days”. In an interview on state television on Monday, Mr Giordani gave reassurances about Mr Chavez’s ability to remain in power. “I think there is no doubt the president will be present at the 2012 elections and then for many years,” he said. Mr Chavez was met on arrival in Havana by Cuban President Raul Castro before undergoing a bout of chemotherapy on Sunday.
Mr Chavez later posted an upbeat message on Twitter about his health ahead of a second day of chemotherapy treatment. “Good morning Happy World! Good morning beautiful Venezuela! From here, ready for another day of the battle for life. We will live and win! Love you,” Mr Chavez Tweeted in Spanish. There were also two photos of the Venezuelan leader wearing the football shirt of the national team, which defeated Chile 2-1 on Sunday to reach the semi-finals of the Copa America. Mr Chavez watched the match on TV alongside Cuba’s revolutionary former leader Fidel Castro, a mentor who himself recovered from serious intestinal surgery in 2006.
On Saturday, Venezuela’s National Assembly had voted to allow Mr Chavez to return to Cuba to resume cancer treatment, including chemotherapy. During a sometimes heated debate, opposition politicians had urged him to delegate the running of the country to his vice-president. Mr Chavez dismissed the calls, saying he would “come back much better than I am right now”. But speaking during a televised cabinet meeting which followed, he announced he would – for the first time since he came to power 12 years ago – delegate some of his powers. Vice-President Elias Jaua would oversee the expropriation of businesses and a number of budget-related duties while he was receiving treatment in Cuba, he announced. He added that Finance Minister Jorge Giordani would also temporarily take on some additional duties.
The 56-year-old president said his decision had come as a result of “deep reflection” during his fight against cancer. The BBC’s Sarah Grainger in Caracas says some people will be surprised by the president opting to go back to Cuba instead of staying at home for treatment. But the strong bond he has with Fidel Castro, who first noticed he was not looking well, and his ability to recover away from the public eye may make Cuba a more compelling place for treatment, adds our correspondent..- BBC