Venezuela’s government accused opposition leaders of waging a ‘psychological war’ to destabilise the country, as its cancer-stricken President, Hugo Chavez, battles a serious lung infection.

The hardline stance was adopted after Vice-President Nicolas Maduro returned from a visit with the ailing Mr. Chavez in Cuba, where he is suffering from complications more than three weeks after undergoing cancer surgery.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said a “severe pulmonary infection” that Mr. Chavez developed after the surgery had led to a “respiratory insufficiency”.

Mr. Villegas then levelled the charge that the President’s health had become the target of a campaign to destabilise the government and finish off its socialist revolution.

The statement came amid rising demands at home for a detailed accounting of Mr. Chavez’s condition and whether he is fit to take the oath of office January 10 for another six year term.

Venezuela’s Constitution calls for new elections to be held within 30 days if the President is unable to take the oath of office or dies during his first four years in office. — AFP