CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s new President Nicolás Maduro was roughly pushed aside Friday by a youth in a red shirt who ran on stage during his inaugural address in the National Assembly and grabbed the microphone.
The incident caused momentary confusion as national television coverage of the event briefly went off the air, returning after Maduro had regained his composure and the youth had been moved off stage.
“Incident overcome,” said Maduro, saying he would speak to the man after the address and then continuing with his speech.
“I swear it before the eternal memory of the supreme commander,” he said after being read the oath by National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello.
Cheers broke out in the packed assembly as the presidential sash was placed over the 50-year-old Maduro, who was elected president in snap elections to replace Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer on March 5 after 14 years in power.
Close Chávez allies including presidents Raúl Castro of Cuba and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran watched the ceremony along with leaders from other Latin American countries who rallied around Venezuela’s new government.
Fireworks fired by Maduro supporters boomed across the city in celebration but the fainter sound of pots being banged in protest could also be heard, recalling that his narrow victory has been challenged by the opposition.