16 Nov 2013

Venezuela on verge of government by decree

11:49 am on 16 November 2013

The National Assembly in Venezuela has paved the way to granting special powers for President Nicolas Maduro. Under the measures he would be able to govern by decree for 12 months.

The bill still needs to be revised by a special commission and debated for a second time, but the BBC reports correspondents do not expect significant changes to be made.

Mr Maduro says he will use it to tackle corruption and the economic crisis. However, critics fear he may use it to silence the opposition.

The approval of the first reading of the bill came after a government member of parliament who defected to the opposition, was stripped of her immunity on Tuesday and replaced by a government loyalist.

The BBC reports this provided the remaining vote that the government needed to achieve the 99 votes needed for the approval of the "Ley Habilitante" (Enabling Act).

Former President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer in March, resorted to Enabling Acts four times during his 14 years in power. His successor, Mr Maduro, has pledged to continue his policies.