CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's vice president said Wednesday that the government was still aiming for President Hugo Chavez to be sworn in for a new term next month, saying his condition was improving after his cancer surgery in Cuba.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro declined to speculate when asked about scenarios if the president is unable to take the oath Jan. 10. He spoke amid mounting concerns over Chavez's tough fight against complications after his fourth cancer-related operation, and a day after National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello floated the idea of postponing Chavez's inauguration if necessary.

"We're concentrating on prayer, on faith, on medical treatment that is among the best in the world, so that our commander in chief and president upholds his sacred duty on Jan. 10," Maduro said at a news conference. "Day after day . . . he has been getting better."

Maduro, whom Chavez designated as his chosen successor, also said that if Chavez isn't able to be sworn in as planned, "he left clear, public instructions about any scenario."

Chavez, 58, has not spoken publicly since his Dec. 11 surgery for pelvic cancer, and on Tuesday the government said he had a respiratory infection, though it was controlled.

The constitution says the president should be sworn in Jan. 10.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas last week said that if it was not possible for Chavez to return in time, Venezuelans should be prepared to understand, though he did not elaborate.