Venezuela's vice president has said that President Hugo Chavez is fighting for his life while he continues to undergo treatment more than two months after his latest cancer surgery.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television on Thursday that Chavez "is battling there for his health, for his life, and we're accompanying him."
The vice president has used similar phrasing in the past, saying on December 20 that Chavez "is fighting a great battle ... for his life, for his health."
Chavez has not spoken publicly since before his latest cancer operation in Cuba on December 11. He returned to Venezuela on February 18, and the government says he has been undergoing more treatment at a military hospital in Caracas.
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Maduro also called for Venezuelans to keep praying for Chavez and to remain loyal to the president.
"Do you know why Comandante Chavez neglected his health and has been battling (cancer) for nearly two years?" he said. "Because he completely surrendered body and soul and forgot all his obligations to himself in order to give himself to the homeland."
Chavez, 58, himself has previously acknowledged that he was neglecting his health in recent years, often staying up late and consuming cup after cup of coffee to remain alert.
The president has undergone surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments since June 2011, when he first announced his cancer diagnosis. He has not specified the type of cancer or the exact location in his pelvic region where his tumors have been removed.
On February 15, the government released four photographs of Chavez lying in a bed in Cuba with his two daughters by his side. They were the only images of him published since early December.
Re-elected in October, Chavez was scheduled to have been sworn in on January 10. But the Supreme Court said the swearing-in could be delayed.