Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's formal swearing-in for a new six-year term scheduled for 10 January can be postponed if he is unable to attend due to his struggle to recover from cancer surgery, his vice president said.
Nicolas Maduro's comments were the clearest yet that Venezuela's government is preparing to delay the swearing-in while avoiding naming a replacement or calling a new election in the South American OPEC nation.
But Mr Maduro, waving a copy of the constitution during an interview with state TV, said there was no problem if Chavez was sworn in at a later date by the nation's top court.
"The formality of his swearing-in can be resolved in the Supreme Court," he said.
More top news
Very mild for mid February
Five teenagers have been arrested in London on the suspicion of preparation of acts of terrorism.
Goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott ended Sutton United's FA Cup dream on Monday night.