Caracas (dpa) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was to return on
Sunday to Cuba for another surgery in his battle against cancer,
which has led him to speak publicly of a successor for the first
Chavez said Vice President Nicolas Maduro, 50, should replace him for the remainder of his term if there are "circumstances that prevent me from exercising the presidency further."
The 58-year-old announced in a television broadcast late Saturday that he would fly to Cuba for the surgery, from where he had just returned after having treatment on Friday.
"It is absolutely necessary that I undergo another operation because new malignant cells have been found. I have to return to Havana," he said.
"With God's favour, we will move forward and win," he said.
Chavez, who has governed Venezuela since 1999, won the October 7 presidential election with 55 per cent of the vote and is due to start a further six-year mandate on January 10.
He underwent surgery for an unspecified cancer of the pelvic region in June 2011, when he was first diagnosed, and again in February.
Chavez had declared himself completely cured earlier this year, yet rumours of his health persisted. On November 27, he travelled once again to Cuba, where he received oxygen treatment for 11 days.
Venezuela is due to hold important regional election on December 16. The opposition has demanded in recent weeks more transparency regarding Chavez's health.
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