Chavez could give up extra powers before they expire
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Saturday declared he would be willing to give up extra emergency powers before an 18-month sunset provision had expired, dpa reported.
Speaking to Parliament, Chavez said he could even give them up within four to five months.
"I have no problem with that," Chavez said.
Parliament in December gave Chavez the power to govern by decree for 18 months, in order to deal with an emergency caused by heavy rainfall. The measure was called "Ley Habilitante" - or state of exception.
He used it to enact decrees on finance, economy and security policy.
But when opposition forces returned to the new Parliament in January after an absence of five years, they raised sharp criticism of the arrangement.
"I was charged with being a dictator, because this very same Parliament had given me the Ley Habilitante. How can you say that this is a dictatorship?" Chavez asked.
The leftwing populist president governed without opposition in Parliament for the preceding period, after they had boycotted the 2005 elections. But they rallied in the 2010 vote and denied Chavez and his supporters a two-thirds majority.
Chavez argued in December that he needed special powers because of massive flooding, in order to help the 120,000 Venezuelans left homeless.
It was the fourth time since Chavez took office in 1999 that he has governed by decree. By getting 18 months of sole power in December, Chavez had ensured himself a strong stance leading up to the 2010 presidential elections.
The move brought condemnation by opposition forces and from the United States, which charged Chavez had found another way to justify "autocratic powers" in violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.