Venezuela top court grants Maduro economic emergency powers, opposition cries foul

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) and his wife and deputy of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV) Cilia Flores, attend to a rally to commemorate the 24th anniversary of late Venezuelan President Chavez failed coup attempt, in Caracas, February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s Supreme Court approved President Nicolas Maduro’s “economic emergency” decree on Thursday, setting up a showdown after the Venezuelan Congress rejected the measure last month.

Maduro’s decree includes wider executive powers to control the budget, companies and the currency amid a severe economic crisis in the OPEC nation.

The new opposition-led National Assembly shot the measure down in late January, saying it offered no real solutions to the worsening recession, shortages, and inflation.

However, in a decision published on its website, Venezuela’s top court granted leftist Maduro those executive powers, foreshadowing an institutional showdown.

“Now the economic emergency decree has been activated,” Maduro rejoiced on state television. “So in the next few days I will activate a series of measures that I had been working on. This really helps our work.”

Venezuela’s opposition accused what it described as a subservient judiciary of undermining democracy.

“The Supreme Court cannot usurp the powers of the legislature,” Juan Guaido, an opposition lawmaker from Vargas, said on Twitter.

The opposition has vowed to find a legal way to remove Maduro, by resignation or referendum, by mid-2016.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Paul Tait