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Venezuela rejects request for emergency powers

Venezuela's opposition-led congress has rejected President Nicolas Maduro's bid to declare a state of economic emergency. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected inflation to top 700 percent.

In the country's first major congressional debate in more than a decade, the opposition controlled National Assembly voted on Friday against Maduro's decree by 107 to 54. The decree, issued a week ago, aimed to give Maduro 60 days of expanded powers to impose currency controls and other measures.

"It would be totally irresponsible for the National Assembly to blindly approve a decree of such magnitude, scope and implications, without having any information because the government itself refused to provide it," opposition speaker of congress Henry Ramos Allup said on television.

He said further that a session of the assembly was canceled when the ruling party didn't show up to defend the decree.

Maduro's economic team pulled out, accusing the opposition of trying to turn the assembly into a "show." Maduro said they would only participate if the event was closed to media.

Political divide

The rejection is more of the same in the South American country, as opposition members of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and the United Social Party of Venezuela (PSUV) party continue to accuse each other of wrongdoing and incompetence.

The opposition argues that Maduro is the country's real problem, and have

stated their desire to remove Maduro,

via resignation or referendum, by mid-2016.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro speaks at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela

President Nicolas Maduro speaks at the National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela

Maduro said the opposition is "turning their back on the country," and said further that "they're bent on politics of sterile confrontation."

"We're not closing any doors. On the contrary, today we opened the door to a serious discussion," majority leader Julio Borges said when asked about the rejection.

"We're not looking to double down on the same policies that got us into this crisis. What we need is real change."

An unfavorable forecast

Meanwhile, the IMF has forecasted that the country is expected to see an 8 percent drop in gross domestic product and a 720 percent inflation in 2016. On the same day of the IMF report, the country's central bank released its first economic growth and inflation report in more than a year. The report showed that the economy shrank 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015, and inflation in September hit 141.5 percent.

The oil-rich country already suffers from the world's highest inflation, with reports from IMF last year suggesting the country's economy contracted by 10 percent and inflation rose 275 percent.

Maduro has pledged to shift the country's system away from oil revenue, citing the massive drop in oil prices over the past year and a half.

smm/bw (AP, dpa, AFP)

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