11 Jan 2013

Tributes paid as Chavez misses inauguration

8:28 pm on 11 January 2013

Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro has led tributes to President Hugo Chavez on the day the leader should have been sworn in to a fourth term in office.

Mr Maduro addressed tens of thousands of Chavez supporters outside the presidential palace in Caracas on Thursday.

The 58-year-old's inauguration was postponed as he continues to receive cancer treatment in Cuba, giving rise to political uncertainty in the country.

Supporters, many with their faces painted in the colours of the Venezuelan flag, listened as leaders from the region, including Uruguay's Jose Mujica and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, praised Mr Chavez's work, the BBC reports.

Fighter jets performed a fly-past to the delight of the crowd gathered outside the Miraflores palace.

Opposition parties have called for a counter-demonstration on 23 January, the anniversary of the removal from power of Venezuelan military ruler Marcos Perez Jimenez in 1958.

Mr Chavez's health continues to be "in a complex and difficult situation", Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Thursday, without giving details.

In October last year, Mr Chavez was comfortably re-elected to another six-year term in office with 54% of the vote.

In December, he announced that the cancer he had been treated for before, and which he had said he had been cured of, had returned.