[JURIST] The Venezuelan National Assembly [official website] on Friday approved by 160-7 a set of proposed amendments to the country's constitution [press release, in Spanish], including reforms that would eliminate presidential term limits and augment the president's emergency powers. The proposed amendments passed a preliminary vote [JURIST report] in the Assembly in August; all of the constitutional reforms will be subject to a two-part national referendum on December 2. The package also encompasses provisions allowing the president to declare an indefinite state of emergency, lowering the voting age from 18 to 16, reducing the working day to six hours, and prohibiting discrimination.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has touted the constitutional changes as necessary to advance Venezuela's socialist revolution. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has warned that the reforms would violate international law [press release] by allowing the president to suspend due process guarantees during times of emergency. Opposition politicians have accused Chavez [JURIST report] of using the constitutional reforms to consolidate his power over Venezuela. The National Assembly is overwhelmingly comprised of Chavez supporters, as opposition parties boycotted elections in 2005. AP has more. Bloomberg has additional coverage.