Hugo Chavez 'battling for his life'

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

"Our commander is sick because he gave his life for those who don't have anything," he told Venezuelan TV.

Mr Chavez first announced he was being treated for cancer in June 2011. The type of cancer and precise location have not been revealed.

He has not been seen in public since travelling to Cuba in December for his latest surgery.

Mr Chavez - who has been in power 14 years - is believed to be suffering from cancer in his pelvic area.

He was reported to be suffering a severe respiratory infection following the latest surgery.

'Body and soul'

The president was re-elected for another six-year term in October 2012, but his swearing-in was delayed because of his illness.

Speaking in Caracas, Vice-President Maduro - who widely regarded as his chosen successor - said President Chavez "didn't take care of his health because he gave his body and soul" to the people.

"He's battling for his life, for his health, and we are there with him," he said.

Mr Chavez returned from Cuba in mid-February, sending a series of celebratory tweets thanking his Cuban hosts for their help and his fellow Venezuelans for their support.

The week before, images were released of him smiling in his hospital bed during a visit from his daughters.

But little has been heard of him since.