Chavez stops clock on plans to change time

HUGO Chavez, the president of Venezuela, postponed a plan to put the country's clocks back half an hour yesterday after his attempt to rush through the change in record time caused widespread confusion.

Mr Chavez had said the shift would allow children to wake up for school in daylight rather than before sunrise, but acknowledged that some people might claim he was crazy. The sudden preparations to put the country four-and-a-half hours behind Greenwich Mean Time raised eyebrows when Mr Chavez said - only eight days beforehand - the change would come into effect yesterday.

There was no major campaign to explain the measure. Even Mr Chavez had seemed unprepared, initially telling Venezuelans to move their clocks forward, rather than back.

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In delaying the shift, Mr Chavez said that Venezuela still had to complete the necessary bureaucratic steps with international organisations. His government is now aiming to implement the change in January.

Mr Chavez has dismissed criticism that moving the time only 30 minutes was quirky, questioning why the world had to follow a scheme of hourly divisions he said was dictated by the imperial United States.

The change will put Venezuela in a time zone shared by no other country. Several countries have adopted times that put them half an hour ahead or behind neighbours. Nepal's official time is just 15 minutes ahead of that of India.

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