Q&A: Venezuela's constitutional process

As President Hugo Chavez remains absent, Venezuela's Supreme Court has endorsed the postponement of his inauguration.
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2013 13:15
The seven-member court voted unanimously on Tuesday to delay the inauguration ceremony [EPA]

The Supreme Court recently ruled that President Hugo Chavez can postpone his inauguration will be undergoes medical treatment in Cuba. Has anything like this ever happen in the country's history?
The Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday has left Nicolas Maduro the vice-president and Chavez's chosen heir, as the person in charge of the country until there is clarity whether or not Chavez will recover from cancer.
This is the first postponement of an inauguration in Venezuela's history.
Who is on the Supreme Court? And how did the court reach this decision?
The seven-member court voted unanimously on Tuesday to delay the inauguration ceremony, allowing Chavez to take the oath of office at an unspecified later date.
Earlier, the National Assembly voted to give Chavez as much time as needed to recover.
The Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales said while reading the ruling that: “We know and accept that the swearing-in of the head of state is necessary and will be carried out, but for the moment we do not know when, or where, or how it will be done."

The judiciary is mainly comprised of judges that support President Chavez.
Venezuela's armed forces have also expressed support for the postponement.
The opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, has accepted the court's decision. What's the next move from the opposition, given president's condition?
Some members of the opposition consider the constitutional wrangling an “emergency”  and they want the top court decision to be fully reviewed by different constitutional lawyers.
According to El Universal, a national newspaper in Venezuela, Vestalia Sanpedro an opposition lawmaker, indicated that the opposition legislators would hold a press conference on Thursday to explain their next move.
While Henrique Capriles has accepted the court ruling, he said the decision does not end the uncertainties facing the country.
What does Venezuela's constitution say about what happens now? Who will lead the country when the president is away?
Constitutional law professor Jose Vicente Haro told Al Jazeera that under the constitution, the president's authority can be granted to the leader of the National Assembly [in this case Diosdado Cabello] for 90 days, with the possibility of the National Assembly extending that period for up to 180 days if Chavez still hasn't returned.


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