CARACAS, Venezuela -- Allies of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chávez on Saturday chose to keep the same National Assembly president -- who could be in line to act as a caretaker leader in some circumstances.
The vote to retain Diosdado Cabello as legislative leader signaled the ruling party's desire to stress unity and continuity amid growing signs the government plans to postpone Chávez's inauguration for a new term while he fights a severe respiratory infection nearly a month after cancer surgery in Cuba.
The opposition has argued that if Chávez is unable to be sworn in as scheduled on Thursday, the president of the National Assembly should take over in the interim.
Cabello's selection quashed speculation about possible political reshuffling in the midst of Chávez's health crisis. It came a day after Vice President Nicolas Maduro joined other allies in suggesting that Chávez could remain president and take the oath before the Supreme Court later on if he isn't fit to be sworn in on the scheduled date.
"It strikes me that the government has decided to put things on hold, to wait and see what happens with Chávez's health and other political factors, and figure out the best way to ensure continuity," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.