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Venezuelan president granted power to rule by decree

Venezuela’s National Assembly has granted President Nicolas Maduro wide-ranging special powers to rule by decree for one year, a move that he has said is necessary to fully tackle the country’s spiraling inflation.

The decree will essentially allow the president to create laws without parliamentary approval.

The socialist president says he needs greater personal power to stamp out opponents who are waging “economic warfare against his government” as the country struggles with soaring inflation and shortages of basic goods.

Tuesday’s vote over the Enabling Law is the latest move by the elected Venezuelan leader, a protégé of the late President Hugo Chavez, to strengthen his hand as he faces an important political test in municipal elections next month.

“He has to tackle an economy in free fall,” Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher said, reporting from Caracas, the capital.

“People are really struggling to buy normal household goods.” 

Over the weekend, Maduro used his existing authority to make retail appliance stores slash prices, sending troops to keep order among the crowds that quickly formed.

On Tuesday, the Venezuelan unit of General Motors was fined the equivalent of $85,000 for allegedly overcharging and practising “usury” in the sale of car parts to local concessionaires. 

The government also asked Twitter to take down accounts of users posting the illegal black market exchange rate for the country’s bolivar currency, which is trading at about one-tenth of the official value. 

These measures have rallied Maduro’s working-class base and even won approval from some government opponents who have joined the long lines outside appliance stores nationwide for the past 10 days in search of deep discounts on TV sets and refrigerators. 

Source: Al Jazeera

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