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Venezuela leader gets decree powers

The Venezuelan parliament has approved a law giving President Nicolas Maduro the power to legislate by decree for nine months in the face of what he described as threats by the US government.

The so-called "anti-imperialist" law will be in effect from the time it is published in Venezuela's Official Gazette until December 31.

Mr Maduro requested the expanded powers in response to new US sanctions on Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations.

Critics of Venezuela's government have called the move a power grab.

The US is targeting officials in the top echelon of Venezuela's security apparatus responsible for cracking down on last year's anti-government protests and for pursuing charges against opponents.

The officials will be denied US visas and have their US assets frozen.

The leaders of South America's leftist governments have come out in support of Venezuela, while Washington has denied Mr Maduro's claim that it is seeking to undermine his government and urged him to focus on Venezuela's domestic problems, including food shortages and soaring inflation.

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