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Venezuelan president to address nation - CNN
( 2002-04-12 14:51 ) (7 )

President Hugo Chavez, who is being asked to step down by top military officers, will speak to the nation following an emergency cabinet meeting, top Congressman William Lara told CNN.

"Chavez is meeting with his ministers inside his office and is in full control of his faculties as Venezuelan head of state," the National Assembly president said shortly after midnight.

"I don't know the decisions being taken at the cabinet meeting," Lara told CNN. "I am at the (presidential) palace in solidarity with Chavez in the midst of this attempted coup."

Lara said Chavez would address the nation once the cabinet meeting was over.

Venezuela's army chief Efrain Vasquez joined other military officers Thursday in calling for the ouster of Chavez after a massive protest against the embattled leader turned violent, leaving at least nine people dead and 95 others wounded.

Also after midnight, the Air Force's inspector general Lucas Rincon left the presidential palace and headed to his office to give a press conference, the general told Union Radio station.

Finance Minister and Army general Francisco Uson, meanwhile, told Globovision television that he had resigned from his office.

"I only wanted the Venezuelan people to know that I was resigning," Uson said, without adducing his motives.

He said Chavez was worried and in contact with his family -- a military source late Thursday said Chavez' wife, First Lady Marisabel, had taken off in a plane from a military base.

Uson said he had spoken to his fellow cabinet members at the presidential palace before deciding to step down.

"But I think it would be prudent that they consider the situation we're in, since our resignation would make it easier to form a new government," the general said.

It was unclear how much in control Chavez was of the government early Friday, but presidential spokesman Rafael Vargas late Thursday told reporters that Chavez remained in his office, adding that "the conspiracy has failed."



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