Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has asked his country’s parliament for special powers, claiming he needs them to tackle corruption. Opponents say he is simply seeking to centralize power as an autocrat.
The Venezuelan president went to parliament on Tuesday to seek an "Enabling Law" to last for 12 months to tackle corruption and economic problems.
The National Assembly, where the president's socialist government has a majority, is set to schedule a vote next week on the fast-track legal powers to rule by decree. The passing of the law would require a three-fifths majority.
"We've come to ask for decree powers that will give us a solid legal basis to act quickly and firmly against this badness, this sickness," he told lawmakers.
"If corruption continues and perpetuates the destructive logic of capitalism, there won't be socialism here anymore ...Corruption must stop being a normal part of our political life."
The government also complains of economic sabotage, which it blames on the opposition and the US, claiming that Washington is waging an "economic war" against Venezuela. Among the problems currently faced by the country are soaring inflation, currency shortages and a lack of essential consumer items.
The power to rule by decree was given to late President Hugo Chavez four times during his 14 years as president.
Opposition leader Henry Capriles has said that giving Maduro the special powers will do little to tackle the country's economic woes, and that the president is using excuses to hide his own incompetence.
"This law that he wants is in order to distract the people from their problems," said Capriles. "Decree powers will not help the government be successful."
rc/hc (AFP, AP, Reuters)