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Venezuela's Maduro extends emergency measures

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has extended by three months emergency powers to shore up the country’s crippled economy. The leader added that he expected similar extensions to continue into 2017.

In a televised address to the nation, President Maduro said he signed a new emergency decree "that will allow [Venezuela] during the months of May, June, July" to "recover the country's productive capacity."

The extension, he added, would be undertaken "constitutionally" and would last "for the year 2016 and likely during the year 2017."

The president regularly blames the United States and local business interests for what he and his administration believe is a conspiracy against Venezuela amid low oil prices.

Caracas has had rather hostile relations with Washington for years, especially after the US supported a short-lived 2002 coup against late leader Hugo Chavez.

With the biggest known oil reserves in the world, the South American nation has suffered greatly from a plunge in world oil prices since mid-2014.

'Unconstitutional extensions'

Maduro first decreed a 60-day emergency powers order on January 14, a move he extended again in March. Such a pronouncement grants the president authorization to take over private business assets in a bid to ensure the supply of basic products to the public.

Political opponent Henry Ramos, head of the country's opposition-controlled legislature, said on Wednesday that Maduro "does not have the constitutional authority to extend the decree beyond the first extension," which he claims was "already unconstitutional."

For the measure to be implemented, the National Assembly would have to approve the measure, which it vehemently opposes.

Watch video 02:05

Venezuela: World's most miserable economy

jlw/tj (AFP, AP)

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