Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in a "stable situation" in a Cuban hospital receiving treatment due to a severe respiratory infection, his government said Monday.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas provided the update, saying the government is in "permanent contact" with Chavez's medical team and relatives who are with him in Havana where he underwent surgery for cancer. His report came as other government officials reiterated their stance that the president need not be sworn in for a new term as scheduled this Thursday and could instead have his inauguration at a later date.

"The president is in a stable situation in relation with that described in the most recent report," Villegas said, reading a statement on television. "His treatment is being applied constantly and rigorously, and the patient is assimilating it."

Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin America program at the Wilson Center, said there also could be more practical political calculus at play.

"Chavez's absence is going to create a very strong emotional sensation for people, and perhaps they're postponing the elections to take advantage of that moment that's going to accompany Chavez's death," Arnson said.

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