Venezuela’s Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that the inauguration of President Hugo Chavez can legally be postponed. Controversial leader, Chavez, is currently recovering from major cancer surgery in Cuba.

Chavez’s leadership approach has constantly been a source of debate since he took charge of Venezuela back in 1999. Regularly caught in the political limelight, Chavez is known for accusing the Bush administration of “fighting terror with terror” during the war in Afghanistan, having his own weekly television show in which he sings and dances and famously being told in public by the King of Spain, King Juan Carlos to “shut up”. It is therefore no surprise that at a time where the Venezuelan constitution (the “Constitution”) throws up some controversy over his Presidency, that there would be adversaries pushing at the door for his exit.

Article 231 of the Constitution states that the “president-elect shall take office on 10 January of the first year of their constitutional term, by taking an oath before the National Assembly.” The President, who won another six year term in October 2012 is not well enough to take part in the inauguration. The Constitution allows the oath to be taken at a later date before the Supreme Court. However, the opposition argue that Chavez not being sworn in on the 10th should result in his “absolute absence” being declared (meaning that he is permanently incapacitated). In these circumstances, the Constitution directs that a new election should take place within 30 days.

Serious concerns have been aired by opposition parties and political commentators that the Republic is simply not currently being governed. It seems unlikely that any violence will break out, with opposition leader Henrique Capriles telling reporters that “Our country doesn’t need hate. Our country doesn’t need fights.” However, the decision that Chavez can continue his recovery indefinitely, will no doubt attract increasing criticism the longer he remains in Havana. Chavez supporters will patiently await the return of their President who has cut extreme poverty by 70% since he first came to power.

Calls for amendments to the Constitution will no doubt follow. Ambiguity in situations as important and high-profile as this are most unwelcome. Controversy over legislative interpretation will never be extinguished; draftsmen simply cannot account for every possible scenario. However, surely something of this kind could have been anticipated. Should the debate escalate in the coming weeks, this may well be looked back on as an unnecessary problem that could have been avoided, when focus would be better placed on issues such as Venezuela’s ever-increasing crime rate.