Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s condition has “improved slightly” after his latest operation for cancer in Cuba, Venezuela’s information minister has said.
Chavez underwent his fourth cancer operation on December 11 but suffered a respiratory infection.
The president, who has been in power since 1999, won another six-year term in October’s presidential election.
Chavez, 58, is scheduled to be sworn in on January 10.
Bolivian President Evo Morales was in Cuba over the weekend but did not speak to reporters and a Cuban government invitation for media to cover his arrival and departure was withdrawn.
Morales is expected to issue a statement later on Chavez’s condition.
The lack of any word from Chavez for two weeks has raised serious concerns about his current condition and his ability to attend the swearing-in ceremony.
But in a short televised statement on Monday, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said: “The patient has shown a slight improvement in his condition.”
The Venezuelan constitution states that elections must be held within 30 days if there is an “absolute absence” of the president.
But National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello has said Venezuela will not call fresh elections if President Chavez is unable to be sworn in on 10 January.
Cabello said the swearing-in ceremony would be delayed.
“Since [President] Chavez might not be here on 10 January, [the opposition] hopes the National Assembly will call elections. That’s not going to happen. Commandante Hugo Chavez will continue to be our president,” Cabello said.
According to Cabello, the constitution allows him to be sworn in before Supreme Court justices, but it does not stipulating when or where.
Chavez has said Venezuelans should vote for Vice-President Nicolas Maduro in fresh elections, should his health fail.