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Venezuela expels three US officials amid protests

The Venezuelan government has expelled three American officials over allegations the US is conspiring with the country's opposition leader.

Anti-government demonstrators walk through tear gas in the Venezuelan capital Caracas. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's foreign minister Elias Jaua today repeated accusations made by President Nicolas Maduro that the US is conspiring with Leopoldo Lopez to oust the socialist president during ongoing protests.

Riot police pictured during the protest in Caracas. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

"This independent Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not accept threats, blackmail or conditions of any kind from any foreign country," he said.

Riot police and protesters clashed again last night amid protests that have left three people dead. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The US has called the accusations "baseless and false".

UK man shot in Venezuela 'loved the country'

The British man who was shot dead on Monday in Venezuela "loved" his adopted country, but had narrowly escaped death in a similar incident in 2000, his friend and business partner Luis Dominguez said in an interview.

Thomas Henry Berry and his ex-wife were killed in front of their five-year-old daughter when their car broke down on a highway.

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Ex-Miss Venezuela and British ex-husband shot dead

Monica Spear seen in 2004 the year she won the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant. Credit: Reuters

A former Miss Venezuela and her British ex-husband were shot dead after their car broke down in the country on Monday night. Their 5-year-old daughter survived the attack but was left with a bullet wound in her leg, the government and local media said.

Monica Spear, 29, who was also a soap opera actress, and Henry Berry, 39, died in an attempted robbery on the highway between Puerto Cabello and Valencia in central Venezuela.

The 2004 Miss Venezuela winner lived in the United States but was vacationing in her homeland.

The Foreign Office said they are, "aware of the death of a British national" and are providing consular assistance.

Venezuelan President to rule by decree

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro does not have to get the approval of congress to pass laws. Credit: PA

President Nicolas Maduro has been granted powers to rule by decree for a year, it was announced tonight.

The President said he needed the powers to fix the economy, but adversaries regard this as a power grab.

Maduro now has the power to pass laws without the approval of the Venezulan congress or a second democratic party.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters after the victory, Maduro said: "I want to thank the majority of patriotic and socialist lawmakers for approving this law that will let us advance, over the next 12 months, in defeating the economic war being waged against our people.

"Tonight has been a victory for the people! ... Who says the revolution is over?" he added, flanked by ministers, to applause from a crowd outside the Miraflores presidential palace.

Venezuelan President claims Chavez wall appearance

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has claimed an image of his predecessor the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez has appeared on the wall of an underground construction site.

Maduro, who showed a photo of a white-plaster wall with marks that appear like eyes and a nose, said Chavez's face had briefly appeared to workers building a new subway line in Caracas in the middle of the night.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) shows a metro tunnel wall with an image which he says is the face of the late Hugo Chavez Credit: Reuters

Speaking on state television, the president said: "My hair stands on end just telling you about it. Who is that face? That gaze is the gaze of the fatherland that is everywhere around us, including in inexplicable phenomena."

Maduro - who was elected president in April after the death of Chavez - has previously spoken of seeing the spirit of his idol several times, including in the shape of a bird.

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Maduro on speech intruder: 'They could have shot me'

Television footage captures the stage invader. Credit: Reuters

A man in a red jacket ran onto the stage during Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's inauguration speech today and grabbed the microphone, but was quickly tackled by his bodyguards.

"The security has failed totally. They could have shot me easily," Maduro said after resuming his speech to an audience that included the leaders of Brazil, Iran and Argentina.

Venezuela's election body audits all electronic votes

Former bus driver Nicolas Maduro celebrated victory from Sunday's poll. Credit: Reuters

Venezuela's electoral authority is to carry out a full audit of electronic votes cast in the country's presidential election.

The announcement, reported by Reuters, comes hours before Nicolas Maduro was due to be sworn in as Hugo Chavez's successor after a narrow victory on Sunday.

The US had already called for a recount of the closely fought poll.

Mr Maduro was declared the winner by the country's National Electoral Council by 262,000 votes from 14.9 million cast by Venezuelans.

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