The vice president of Venezuela says President Hugo Chavez is in a "delicate" condition after cancer surgery last month in Cuba.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said he visited Chavez twice in Cuba. In comments broadcast Tuesday on the Telesur network, Maduro said Chavez faces a complex and delicate situation following the December 11 operation.
Madura was returning to Venezuela Wednesday after visiting Cuba.
President Chavez was first diagnosed with cancer in mid-2011 and underwent surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. He has never disclosed the type or severity of the cancer.
Before traveling to Havana, he named Maduro to be his successor if he is not able to resume his duties.
Chavez soundly defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles in October's presidential election. He is scheduled to be sworn in for a new six-year term on January 10. Venezuela's constitution stipulates if the president dies or is declared incapacitated, a new presidential election must be held within 30 days. But the National Assembly leader says he will not call for a new election if Chavez is not able to be sworn in.
Opposition leaders believe they would have a better chance against Maduro in a new election than the charismatic Chavez, who has been in office since 1999. Some Chavez critics believe the Supreme Court, which is run by allies of the president, will allow him to extend his current term without being sworn-in.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.