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Chavez too ill to attend inauguration

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez will not be able to attend his scheduled swearing-in this week, Venezuela’s government announced Tuesday, confirming suspicions that the leader’s illness will keep him in a Cuban hospital past the key date.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro broke the news in a letter to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, saying that on the recommendation of Chavez’s medical team, his recovery process ‘‘should be extended beyond Jan. 10’’ and for that reason he will not be able to attend Thursday’s scheduled inauguration.

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Maduro said Chavez was invoking a provision in the constitution allowing him to be sworn in before the Supreme Court at a ‘‘later date.’’ Cabello announced he had received the request during a legislative session.

Tensions between the government and opposition have been building in a constitutional dispute over whether the ailing president’s swearing-in can legally be postponed. The president underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery in Cuba last month and has not spoken publicly in a month.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said Tuesday that Chavez’s term constitutionally ends Thursday and that the Supreme Court should rule in the matter.

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