Chavez's swearing-in can be postponed: Venezuelan vice president

Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's scheduled swearing-in for his new term on Jan. 10 will be put off if his health condition does not allow it, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Friday.

Chavez can take the oath of office at a later date and "the formality of his swearing-in can be resolved in the Supreme Court," Maduro said in an interview with state TV.

He argued that the constitution gives the flexibility for rearranging the swearing-in ceremony.

A Venezuelan official said on Thursday that Chavez, who had a fourth round of cancer surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11, was still suffering from a "severe" lung infection that had caused breathing difficulties.

Since June 2011, Chavez has been fighting an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer, which has sparked shifting rumors.

According to the Venezuelan Constitution, an early presidential election will be called within 30 days should Chavez be unable to return to power.