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Police and protesters clash in Venezuela

Venezuela's opposition accused President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday of a "coup d'etat" after the outgoing parliament gave him the power to rule by decree for 18 months and pushed through a host of new laws.

A newly united opposition coalition that won about half the popular vote at a legislative poll in September will take 40 percent of seats in the National Assembly from January 5, when it had hoped to put the brakes on the former soldier's agenda.

But the opposition was outraged by the outgoing parliament's move to let Chavez bypass the next Assembly by granting him decree powers, at the same time as passing a raft of new laws, many of them contentious.

Read more about Chavez's goals according to his opponents HERE and about Venezuelan students here.