Venezuela's Supreme Court sided with the government Wednesday in saying that President Hugo Chavez's inauguration could be delayed indefinitely, according to the Associated Press.
Chavez has spent the past month in Cuba recuperating from complications derived from cancer surgery. Despite his absence, the AP reported on Thursday that the government will host an alternative inauguration solely to show support for the ill leader.
Here's the latest on Chavez and the court decision.
* A Reuters report on Wednesday indicated that despite the president's absence, a caretaker president would not need to be appointed. Chavez has not been heard or seen since his surgery.
* Among those invited to attend the absentee inauguration were Uruguay President Jose Mujica, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Daniel Ortega, president of Nicaragua.
* Lawmakers had voted to delay the official ceremony while Chavez was recovering. Opposition leaders had been calling the delay unconstitutional, suggested that the leader was unfit to govern, and complained that the government has been less than forthcoming regarding the condition of the president.
* Though he remains in a hospital bed, Chavez theoretically remains president and his Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, functions as the de facto head of state in his absence.
* U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked to address the Supreme Court decision during a press briefing on Wednesday. Nuland avoided a direct response when asked if the U.S. saw the court as fair and balanced, saying "what's more important is how Venezuelans see this decision of the court, and we're going to see what kind of reaction comes."
* When asked if the U.S. viewed its problems with Venezuela as stemming from a single personality as its relationship with Cuba has been described in the past, Nuland said that "from our perspective, it need not be personality-based, but it's going to take action on the Venezuelan side as well as our willingness in order to improve relations."
* Human Rights Watch criticized Chavez and his government in July for concentrating power and eroding human rights protections in the South American country. Among the group's list of allegations were reports of state efforts to intimidate, censor and prosecute opposition and critics.
* The report noted that the Supreme Court, which has said that there is no separation of powers and has openly noted it will advance Chavez's political agenda, is packed with Chavez's political allies.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.
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