Venezuelan president gets special legislative powers to counter US

 A day after launching major military exercises, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been awarded special legislative powers in response to a decree issued by his US counterpart Barack Obama, Spanish news agency Efe reported.

IANS| Last Updated: Mar 16, 2015, 15:42 PM IST

Caracas: A day after launching major military exercises, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been awarded special legislative powers in response to a decree issued by his US counterpart Barack Obama, Spanish news agency Efe reported.

During an address to thousands of lawmakers outside the presidential palace on Sunday, Maduro received parliament`s authorisation to govern by decree.

The so-called "anti-imperialist" law was passed in the second and final discussion by the ruling majority.

It gives Maduro the power to write bills and approve laws without prior or subsequent contest by the legislators.

The measure was approved by the National Assembly after a parliamentary debate, followed by thousands of government supporters gathering outside the Parliament and presidential palace.

On March 9, President Obama declared Venezuela a national threat under a US law enacted in December.

The US leader`s executive order also effected and expanded sanctions against certain Venezuelan officials, accused of human rights violations during anti-government protests in Venezuela in 2014.

The protests, which Maduro claims were part of a US-backed coup attempt, resulted in the deaths of 43 people.

Opposition lawmakers, who voted against the proposal, called the move a power grab.

However, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, which unifies a large part of the opposition, while asserting that Maduro`s government had violated citizens` rights, also said that Venezuela did not threaten any other nation.

Maduro also called for at least 10 million of Venezuela`s 30 million inhabitants to sign a letter asking Obama to revoke the executive order, which he said he would then send to the US leader.

Maduro declared the letter would complement other initiatives, such as military exercises under way throughout Venezuela until the end of the month and intended to ensure that, should it attack, "imperialism will receive the biggest lesson that has ever been seen".