Venezuela's Chavez seeks decree powers amid floods

Chavez, speaking to state TV, said the measure was necessary to enable his government to respond to severe rains that have caused chaos across Venezuela

Venezuela's Chavez seeks decree powers amid floods


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday he would seek fast-track decree powers from the ruling party-dominated National Assembly due to a crisis caused by storms and flooding.

Socialist president has used fast-track powers on three occasions before during his 11-year rule to pass about 100 laws.

Chavez, speaking to state TV, said the measure was necessary to enable his government to respond to severe rains that have caused chaos across Venezuela, killing at least 34 people and leaving more than 120,000 homeless.

"I am going to request a facilitating law from the National Assembly. We are going to need billions of dollars extra," Chavez said. "There's no time to lose, not a second."

He said his Cabinet would send the request to parliament on Monday. "I request speed from the National Assembly, they could give it a first reading on Tuesday," he said, adding the first emergency decrees could be issued next Friday.

To obtain the fast-track decree powers, Chavez needs approval by three-fifths, or 99, of the lawmakers in the 165-seat National Assembly.

His supporters dominate the legislature, but the opposition made advances in a September vote, meaning they will take 40 percent of the seats in January.

Past Decrees

In the past, Chavez has used decree powers for measures such as nationalizing parts of the oil sector or to increase the number of Supreme Court judges.

In his comments on Friday, Chavez did not specify what decrees he was considering but said they would cover rural and urban land, plus the constitution.

"There are a series of laws that I want to decree on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th of December right in the middle of Christmas ... and the New Year," he said.

Visiting flood zones in recent days, the president has said frequently he will not hesitate to confiscate land needed to build housing for the poor -- and challenged the "bourgeoisie" to "open their golf-courses."

He has also threatened to expropriate any bank that stands in the way of plans to finance homebuilding.

Chavez has taken personal charge of rescue efforts, wading through water, addressing refugees by megaphone and allowing dozens of homeless people to take temporary refuge in his Miraflores presidential palace.

Earlier on Friday, Chavez said he would govern temporarily from a tent given him by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to make more room for the homeless.

Parliament looks set to approve, a package of laws giving more power and funding to grass-roots organizations largely loyal to Chavez.

Reuters

Last Mod: 11 Aralık 2010, 12:04
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