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
ITV today announced that Jacqui Oatley is to join the channel as a sports presenter
There are signs that employers seem to be beginning to decide that the 1.86 million unemployed are not suitable for the jobs available.
Clarke Carlisle "thinks about and prays for" the lorry driver he jumped in front of last year when he attempted to take his own life