Chavez vows on TV he will survive as leader

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The Independent US

Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez held a televised cabinet meeting in an attempt to show that cancer surgery had not loosened his grip on the nation.

The 56-year-old Mr Chavez looked pale but cracked jokes and pored over spreadsheets of housing projects and doctors' salaries. "Never in my life have I had so much determination to win a battle. Never. And we are going to win it," Mr Chavez said, referring to the two operations in Cuba that raised doubts about his fitness to run for re-election next year. "There have been so many rumours about my health ... that I only returned from Cuba because there was almost a coup, division in the military, in the government. Well, sit down and wait, gentlemen of the opposition, unpatriotic conspirators."

Some local media had speculated he might reshuffle his cabinet this week, possibly naming a new vice president. Analysts had been looking for clues to any possible successor should Mr Chavez decide not to enter the 2012 election.

Instead, Mr Chavez said he was keeping all his ministers in their roles and thanked them for their work while he was recuperating abroad.