Caracas:  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez revealed that he is fighting cancer after having a tumour removed in Cuba, raising uncertainty about Venezuela's political future even as he assured his country he expects to fully recover.

Chavez was noticeably thinner and paler as he appeared on television last night, reading from a prepared speech with a serious and at times sad expression. He said he is resolved to "be victorious in this new battle that life has placed before us."

Chavez's admission shook the political landscape of a country he has dominated for his more than 12 years in power, and who had vowed to win re-election next year and govern for another decade or more.

There is no obvious successor to the charismatic Chavez within his Bolivarian movement, and his illness may also affect his leadership within the ALBA alliance of leftist Latin American nations.

Chavez said he had two operations in Cuba, including one that removed a tumour in which there were "cancerous cells." The 56-year-old president said the surgery was performed after an initial operation nearly three weeks ago to remove a pelvic abscess.

A military chief, Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, assured the country on Friday that Venezuela's stability "is guaranteed." "President Chavez will continue because he hasn't truly stopped exercising his functions as president," Rangel Silva said on state television. He said Chavez was recovering smoothly and had been on top of his duties while in Cuba.

(Agencies)