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Sunday, March 28, 1999 Published at 03:04 GMT

World: Americas

Venezuela president granted fast-track powers

The Venezuelan Congress has granted the president, Hugo Chavez, special powers to tackle the country's severe economic problems, including a budget deficit of nine-billion dollars.

Correspondents say Mr Chavez will be able to bypass Congress on economic and fiscal matters for six months.

He had requested the authority to decree special measures last month - two weeks after becoming president.

Mr Chavez came to power promising social and political reform but he does not enjoy a majority in Congress.

Opposition leaders have accused the former army officer - who led an attempted coup seven years ago - of trying to acquire absolute powers.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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