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Venezuelan VP Says Chavez's Health Improving

A woman holds a picture of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez as supporters gather at Simon Bolivar square in Caracas,Venezuela, December 9, 2012.
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro has reassured the nation that ailing President Hugo Chavez continues to recover from cancer surgery.

While touring a pediatric hospital in the capital, Caracas, Sunday Maduro told reporters that Chavez's health is improving with each day.

"Our commander Hugo Chavez is receiving our prayers and those prayers are helping the work being done by the medical group [working with Chavez in Cuba] - which we can say is the best in the world from the scientific, academic and clinical practice point of view," Maduro said. "That is where the convergence that has precisely allowed for those difficult and complex moments to pass and to be improving towards a process of recuperation that fills us with joy.''

Chavez underwent a six-hour surgical procedure nearly two weeks ago in Havana, Cuba, his fourth since he was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2011. He has never disclosed the type or severity of the cancer.

This latest re-occurrence was discovered following the 58-year-old socialist leader's overwhelming re-election back in October. Chavez named Maduro as his successor if he is unable to resume his duties. The president is scheduled to be sworn in to a new six-year term in office on January 10.

Under the country's constitution, if the president dies or is declared incapacitated, a new presidential election must be held within 30 days. But Diosdado Cabello, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly, said Saturday he will not call for a new election if Chavez is unable to be sworn in.

Opposition leaders believe they would have a better chance against Vice President Maduro in a new election than the charismatic Chavez.

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 until he fully recovers.