Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has approved a series of laws by decree, drawing criticism from the country's opposition coalition.

Vice President Elias Jaua says the laws approved by Chavez this week include one giving local communities greater control over certain services, such as maintenance of schools and medical clinics, and providing them with more funding for such services.

Jaua says that 11 decrees were approved at a Friday Cabinet meeting, and that they also included measures dealing with housing and farming loans, as well as restructuring the country's investigative police force.

Venezuela's opposition coalition protested the decrees in a statement on Saturday, saying that "Chavez wants to keep shattering the rule of law."


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