Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro will take over as interim president of the country while elections are organized within 30 days following the death of Hugo Chavez, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.
Chavez clearly spelled out what should happen if he were to die in a Dec. 8 speech before traveling to Cuba for cancer surgery, Jaua said.
“The vice president assumes power and elections are called in the next 30 days,” Jaua said in an interview on state television. “It’s the order that President Hugo Chavez gave us Dec. 8 and he asked us, the revolutionary Venezuelans, to accompany Nicolas Maduro in this task.”
Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, had been running the country in Chavez’s absence after the former paratrooper was operated on in Cuba Dec. 11. His convalescence in Cuba sparked a constitutional crisis after the Supreme Court ruled he could skip his own swearing-in ceremony for a new term. As he didn’t take the oath for a new term, the constitution states that National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello should take over, said Leonardo Palacios, a constitutional lawyer at the Andres Bello Catholic University.
“The constitution is clear that in such cases the president of National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, has to assume temporary power,” Palacios said in a phone interview. “What we are seeing today are political machinations. Maduro’s decision to remain in power would be absolutely unconstitutional.”
Cabello, speaking on state television after Chavez’s death was announced, said he would “accompany the people in whatever they decide,” without adding further details. Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales called on Venezuelans to show confidence in Venezuela’s institutions.