Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has named his successor for the first time as it emerged that the leader was due to return to Cuba for more surgery after a recurrence of cancer.
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'.
According to News24, Chavez announced in a television broadcast late on 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 added.
Chavez had declared himself completely cured earlier this year, yet rumours of his health persisted.
On 27 November, he travelled once again to Cuba, where he received oxygen treatment for 11 days. (ANI)