Venezuela’s Chavez Names Successor as He Leaves for Cuba

Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan president, left, speaks alongside Nicolas Maduro, his minister of foreign affairs. Photographer: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, preparing to travel to Cuba for further cancer surgery, yesterday named Vice President Nicolas Maduro to carry out his legacy if he is unable to remain in office.

Chavez, who spoke in a national television and radio address, said he requires more surgery after malignant cells were detected in the same area as his previous cancer during health exams held over the past month in Cuba. The National Assembly today approved his request to be absent from the country for more than five days as he travels to the Caribbean island.

“There is risk in this process that you can’t deny,” said Chavez, who won re-election to a third six-year term on Oct. 7. “If something happens that disables me some way, my irrevocable opinion is that you should elect Nicolas Maduro as the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

Under Venezuelan law, if Chavez is too ill to carry out his duties, the vice president would take over until the beginning of the new presidential term on Jan. 10. If Chavez is unable to attend the inauguration scheduled on that date, the president of the National Assembly would assume power while elections are arranged within 30 days. If he does take office and then becomes too ill within the first four years of the term, the vice president takes over the presidency for 30 days while elections are held.

Ending ‘Speculation’

“He put an end to the speculation and intrigue going on about succession,” Russ Dallen, the head bond trader at Caracas Capital Markets, said yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions. “He names Maduro as his successor and says people should vote for him — not the words of a man that is sure he is going to live long or even be back for the inauguration on the 10th,” he said.

The former paratrooper, who last left for Cuba on Nov. 27 to aid his recovery from an unspecified form of cancer, disappeared from public view from Nov. 15 until his return to Venezuela early Dec. 7. Unlike previous convalescences, the self-declared socialist didn’t make use of his Twitter account or call into television programs.

“They told me the surgery should have been yesterday or this weekend, but I told them I had to return to Venezuela,” Chavez said. “I need to return to Havana tomorrow and am sending a request to the National Assembly.” read more

Iran condemns US nuclear test

a general aerial view of desert area in Nevada. Iran condemned arch foe the United States on Saturday for conducting a limited nuclear test, saying it showed Washington's "inattention to full disarmament," the state television website reported.

Iran condemned arch foe the United States on Saturday for conducting a limited nuclear test, saying it showed Washington’s “inattention to full disarmament,” the state television website reported.

The US Energy Department said it conducted a “subcritical” test at an underground site in Nevada on Wednesday to study the behaviour of nuclear materials without triggering an atomic explosion. It was its first since February last year.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast “condemned the recent US nuclear test,” saying it displayed “inattention to full disarmament which is a deep-seated demand of international public opinion.”

Iran “as one of the victims of weapons of mass destruction (during its 1980-88 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq), will pursue the supreme leader’s fatwa regarding the prohibition of production, storage or use of such weapons until it has been fully realised,” Mehmanparast added.

He was referring to a 2005 religious decree by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he declared the atomic bomb to be against the principles of Islam.

Washington and other Western governments have expressed scepticism about Iran’s position and suspect that it is trying to develop a weapons capability under cover of its civil nuclear programme.

Tehran insists the programme is exclusively for power generation and medical purposes. read more