Venezuela congress grants Chavez decree powers

Opponents call it a power grab. The president says it's a necessary move to pass emergency legislation


Associated Press
December 18, 2010 3:28AM (UTC)

Venezuelan lawmakers have granted President Hugo Chavez broad powers to rule by decree, undermining the clout of a new congress that takes office next month with a bigger opposition bloc.

The leftist leader's opponents have condemned the move as a power grab, saying the law will be a blank check for Chavez to rule without consulting lawmakers. Chavez has defended it by saying he will use the power to decree laws to speed up the response to deadly floods and landslides.

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The decree powers approved Friday by the National Assembly will be in effect for 18 months.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelan lawmakers are set to grant President Hugo Chavez broad powers to rule by decree, undermining the clout of a new congress that takes office next month with a bigger opposition bloc.

The leftist leader's opponents are condemning the plan as a power grab, saying the law will be a blank check for Chavez to rule without consulting lawmakers.

Chavez has defended it, saying he will use the power to decree laws for one year to speed up the response to deadly floods and landslides.

The National Assembly began a final debate Friday on the law.

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A new congress goes into session Jan. 5 with an opposition contingent large enough to hinder approval of some types of major legislation.


Associated Press

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