Venezuela VP Attacks 'Chavez Health Lies'

Venezuela's vice president has attacked the "lies" he says are being spread on social media about the health of President Hugo Chavez.

Nicolas Maduro, who is Mr Chavez's chosen successor, was speaking to supporters in Caracas alongside Diosdado Cabello, who was re-elected president of Venezuela's National Assembly yesterday.

Mr Maduro said Mr Chavez's supporters must "be in constant battle to fight the lies" that were being spread by the opposition, naming Twitter and Facebook as conduits for the rumours.

Mr Chavez is fighting a severe lung infection and receiving treatment for "respiratory deficiency".

Mr Cabello told the crowd that it "doesn't mean anything" if Mr Chavez is unable to be sworn in on Thursday for a third term as president.

His remarks sent a signal that the government intends to try to postpone the 58-year-old president's inauguration.

The opposition has argued that if Mr Chavez is unable to be inaugurated this week, the president of the National Assembly - Mr Cabello - should take over on an interim basis.

Opposition members have also questioned the unity of the government in Mr Chavez's absence.

Mr Chavez has not spoken publicly or been seen since his December 11 cancer operation in Cuba.

Opposition leaders have argued the constitution is clear that the inauguration should take place on Thursday, and one presidential term ends and another begins.

They have demanded more information about Mr Chavez's condition and have said that if Mr Chavez can't make it back to Caracas by Thursday, the president of the National Assembly should take over provisionally.

Mr Maduro told the crowd that he would provide more information about Mr Chavez's condition "in the coming days".

"You know that these types of treatments call for keeping calm and we are calm," he said.

Mr Chavez has undergone four cancer-related surgeries since June 2011 for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer. He also has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment.