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Chavez Defends Plan to Rule by Decree


Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has defended his plan to pass legislation by decree, calling U.S. reservations about his actions unacceptable meddling in Venezuela's affairs.

Mr. Chavez cursed at U.S. officials in a Sunday broadcast saying Venezuela is exercising the legal authority of a free nation.

On Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Mr. Chavez's plan to rule by decree is an odd proposal in a democratic system.

Venezuela's legislature is expected this week to give Mr. Chavez the power to rule by decree for 18 months.

During his inauguration address earlier this month, Mr. Chavez said he will seek to amend the constitution to allow unlimited consecutive presidential terms.

Opposition lawmakers accuse the president of moving Venezuela toward a totalitarian form of government that resembles Cuba.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.