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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Venezuela lawmakers back reforms
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez holds a copy of the constitution
Mr Chavez proposed the reforms last week
Venezuelas parliament has given initial approval to reforms proposed by President Hugo Chavez, including an end to presidential term limits.

The proposals still require a final endorsement by parliament, which is dominated by Mr Chavez's supporters, and must then be put to a referendum.

The constitutional reforms would also increase presidential control over the central bank.

Current rules mean Mr Chavez must step down when his term ends in 2012.

Economic powers

Mr Chavez has said the proposals will bring "new horizons for the new era".

The reforms would remove term limits and extend the presidential term of office from six years to seven.

Other changes include bringing in a maximum six-hour working day and strengthening state economic powers.

"We are reforming the constitution to solidify... the socialist nation, the socialist state, the socialist democracy," Carlos Escarra, a legislator who helped draft the reforms to 33 of the constitution's 350 articles, told the Reuters news agency.

Critics say Mr Chavez is seeking to remain president for decades.

All seats in the National Assembly are held by pro-Chavez parties as a result of an opposition election boycott in 2005.


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