18 Dec 2010

Wider powers granted to Chavez

12:15 pm on 18 December 2010

Parliament in Venezuela has granted President Hugo Chavez wider powers for 18 months.

Mr Chavez says he needs the powers to deal with the aftermath of last month's floods, in which about 40 people died and 140,000 were left homeless.

Critics say the move will turn the country into a dictatorship.

The BBC reports the parliament is in the last few weeks of its session.

A new parliament will begin sitting in January with more opposition MPs, making it more difficult for Mr Chavez to pass new laws.

This is the fourth time Mr Chavez has been given such authority since he came to office almost 12 years ago.