Chavez has reduced public appearances, lost some weight and his hair from his cancer treatment [Reuters]

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president, has said he will soon undergo a third round of chemotherapy at home after two previous rounds in Cuba.

"We've decided after a meeting with my medical team, because the conditions are right, to do this third round in Venezuela instead of going to Cuba," Chavez told local media.

"We should begin the third round tomorrow [Sunday]," he said later, addressing cheering supporters from the balcony of the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, the capital.

"This treatment is necessary to ensure that the cancer I had does not come back," Chavez added, before setting off to the military hospital in Caracas where he said he would stay until Thursday or Friday.

While he said the treatment would take him out of the public eye for "a few days," he nevertheless added: "I will be on Twitter."

"The third round should be a bit easier, though the first two were not that bad," he said.

Chavez, 57, has said he underwent surgery in Cuba in June for a malignant tumour in his pelvic area. He has not offered more detailed information on his cancer, for which he underwent chemotherapy in Cuba in July and August.

Since then Chavez has reduced his public appearances, lost some weight and his hair from his cancer treatment. He says he has been working on physical therapy and a recovery plan that requires him to work fewer hours than normal.

But the leftist populist, a former paratrooper and staunch critic of the United States who has been in power since 1999, has vowed to contest the 2012 presidential election and win.

Earlier this week, Chavez said any further chemotherapy would be "preventive".

"I had this illness and now we are preparing my body and soul so that it does not come back," he said on Saturday, when he was shown on television meeting with his key ministers.

Source: Agencies