Chavez sacks energy minister after rolling blackouts

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has indefinitely suspended rolling blackouts in capital city Caracas just a day after they began, and sacked his electricity minister.

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has indefinitely suspended rolling blackouts in capital city Caracas just a day after they began, and sacked his electricity minister.

Chavez said that the minister was responsible for mistakes in the way the rationing plan was applied.

Mr Chavez's announcements were a significant strategic shift in his attempts to prevent a widespread power collapse in the coming months through rolling blackouts of up to four hours a day across the country.

"I've ordered the electrical outages to be suspended, only in Caracas," Mr Chavez said on state television. "Because this government has to be capable of recognising mistakes made and fixing them in time."

Mr Chavez said that since the outages began in Caracas at midnight on Tuesday, authorities had cut power to the wrong sectors of the city.

"I think in one area they repeated the outage a few hours later," he said.

He added that some stoplights were left without power.

"Enough. I said if that's what is going on, there was an error there," Mr Chavez said.

Mr Chavez said he asked Electricity Minister Angel Rodriguez to resign and that "he has taken it like a soldier".

He made the announcement shortly before some parts of Caracas were set to begin four-hour outages at midnight.

He said he ordered the chief of the city's state electric utility not to schedule any more blackouts until the process is reviewed. It was unclear how soon the government could attempt to restart the measures in Caracas.

Mr Chavez earlier urged Venezuelans to accept the cutbacks and likened them to a national energy diet.

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