Venezuela’s National Assembly was set to meet yesterday to elect its leadership and likely thrash out the country’s political future as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez battles cancer in Cuba and debate rages over whether he can be sworn in to a new term next week.
The lawmakers’ vote will be a key political test for Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, the regime’s No. 3 and a perceived rival for power with Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor.
Both men have denied persistent reports of a power struggle between them and vowed to maintain party unity.
In convening the session, Cabello called on Chavez supporters to rally outside the parliament building “to exhort revolutionary unity and head off the campaign of rumors.”
Cabello was expected to win re-election as president of the assembly, which is controlled by Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
However, if he fails to keep his post, it would give credence to the view that a fight for dominance in a post-Chavez Venezuela is already under way.
So far, Chavez has refused to relinquish power, despite four rounds of surgery and debilitating complications that have kept him out of public view in Havana for nearly a month, the longest stretch in his 14 years in power.
“The official version of what is happening is unsustainable,” the head of the main opposition coalition, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, said in an interview.
Aveledo said it would make more sense for the government to acknowledge “the truth” and use it to prepare the country for what is to come.
However, it “doesn’t want to admit that the president is absent,” he said.
Maduro, for his part, vehemently rejected that position in a TV appearance late on Friday, laying out a legal rationale for delaying the president’s swearing-in to a new six-year term for an unspecified period of time while keeping Chavez in office.
With a pocket-sized constitution in hand, Maduro said that the charter provides “a dynamic flexibility” that allows the president to take the oath of office before the Venezuelan Supreme Court at some later date.
It was the clearest signal yet that Chavez, who is fighting off complications from cancer surgery in Cuba, will not be taking the oath of office as scheduled on Thursday.
Chavez, 58, was re-elected on Oct. 7, despite his debilitating battle with cancer and the strongest opposition challenge yet to his 14-year rule in Venezuela, an OPEC member with the world’s largest proven oil reserves.
He underwent his fourth round of surgery more than four weeks ago and has developed a “severe pulmonary infection” that has raised doubts about his fitness to continue serving.
He has not been seen in public in nearly four weeks, and only his family, a handful of senior officials and his Cuban medical team are known to have seen him as he battles to regain his health in a Havana hospital.
Under Venezuela’s constitution, new elections must be held within 30 days if the president dies or is permanently incapacitated either before he takes office or in the first four years of his six-year term.
SAFETY RISK: The government is working to categorize countries based on their COVID-19 cases and prevention efforts, which would determine quarantine periods The government plans to rank countries based on their COVID-19 risks to determine how to treat tourists and other travelers from those nations once Taiwan reopens its borders, but it is still working out the categories, a top health official told lawmakers yesterday. “We would divide countries around the world into several categories. One category would comprise those countries with very few confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as New Zealand and Palau. Travelers from the countries in this category would only need to practice self-health management,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told a Legislative Yuan seminar hosted by
China would attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, Chinese General Li Zuocheng (李作成) said yesterday. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, Li, who is chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law is China’s legislative basis for military action against Taiwan. “If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
RELATIONSHIP ‘TERMINATED’: US Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the president’s action was ‘an act of extraordinary senselessness,’ a tone Chinese media echoed US President Donald Trump on Friday announced that Washington would withdraw funding from the WHO, end Hong Kong’s special trade status and suspend visas of Chinese graduate students suspected of conducting research on behalf of their government. Trump said in a White House announcement that Chinese officials “ignored” their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressured the organization to mislead the public about the outbreak. “We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be