Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said on Thursday that Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is recovering from cancer surgery, but that if he had to step down Vice President Nicolas Maduro would be "extremely capable" of running the OPEC nation.
Correa, who won a sweeping re-election victory on Sunday told Reuters he thinks Maduro is the right person to take over in Venezuela if the socialist leader needs to step down.
"Regardless of who may take charge, my main concern is that Chavez recovers ... but in case he cannot be in charge, Vice President Maduro is extremely capable," Correa told Reuters.
If Chavez had to step down, the 49-year-old Correa said he believed any transition of power in Caracas would be democratic.
"All the processes since Chavez has been in power, as far as I know, have been extremely democratic. Those who lose might not like it, that's another issue ... But Venezuela has a vibrant democracy."
Correa, a close friend and an ally of Chavez said he spoke with Maduro on Wednesday and plans to visit Venezuela soon.
(Reporting by Eduardo Garcia and Alexandra Valencia; Editing by Daniel Walllis and Vicki Allen)