CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (search) said Wednesday it is still too early to decide on the possibility of granting Ecuador's ousted president, Lucio Gutierrez (search), political asylum in Venezuela.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday in Quito to remove embattled Gutierrez from office after a week of escalating street protests demanding his ouster, and they swore in Vice President Alfredo Palacio (search) to replace him in keeping with the constitution.
"It's too early" to decide on a possible asylum request," said Chavez during a press conference with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. "The situation is still very confusing ... We want normalcy for Ecuador."
Earlier Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez said Venezuela has not received an asylum request from Gutierrez or a petition by the embattled former president to travel to Venezuela.
A special session made up of opposition congressmen in the 100-seat unicameral Congress took less than an hour to reach the decision with a vote of 62-0, in hopes of ending a crisis that was quickly spiraling out of control with the threat of violent clashes between Gutierrez supporters and opponents.
Ecuador's military withdrew its support for Gutierrez shortly after the vote.
Lagos, who is on a two-day visit to Venezuela, told reporters that he hoped "it would be possible to resolved the problems Ecuadoreans are facing according to the rule of law and their constitutional norms."
Chavez's left-leaning government would consider the possibility of granting Gutierrez asylum or receiving him if he decides to travel to Venezuela, said Rodriguez.
"If there is a request, we will establish a position ... We don't have any problem in considering it," said Rodriguez.
Chavez, a self-proclaimed "revolutionary" and former paratrooper, expressed his support for Gutierrez, a former army colonel, following his election win in 2002. But the two former military officers never forged strong ties.