Venezuela’s Chavez keeps ministers in same jobs

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela’s convalescing  President Hugo Chavez dismissed rumours of a reshuffle yesterday and kept all his ministers in their jobs, thanking  them for their work while he underwent cancer surgery in Cuba.

The 56-year-old also said the personnel of his military high  command would remain the same. Local media had speculated he  might reshuffle his cabinet this week after returning from an  operation that raised questions about his long term health.

“There are so many rumours going around taking advantage of  my health situation … The situation has been difficult, but  we are climbing the hill,” he said in his first televised  meeting with ministers since returning to Venezuela on Monday.

Back to his folksy, chatty self in some ways, the   socialist leader — who had a malignant tumor removed last  month in Cuba — toured a military base earlier on Thursday.

He appeared to show some discomfort in walking and looked  paler than usual, but spoke extensively about his new regime.

Famous for swilling coffee, burning the midnight oil and a  whirlwind style of government including telephone calls to  aides at all hours, Chavez said his personal routine was now  strictly controlled, cut back to “bath, supper and bed.”

The charismatic Chavez has reasserted political domination  of the OPEC nation he has ruled since 1999 with a surprise  return to Caracas this week that electrified supporters, calmed  his inner circle and left opponents struggling how to respond.

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