CARACAS — A new parliament was sworn in Wednesday in an acrimonious session that featured bitter opposition complaints about unconstitutional behavior, shouts of "murderers'' and chants of "Uh, ah, Chávez isn't leaving!''
As legislators took their oaths inside, rival demonstrations were kept apart outside by a large contingent of police and national guard in riot gear.
Elected in September, the legislature features a significant increase in the opposition. In 2005, opponents of President Hugo Chávez boycotted the parliamentary elections, and until Wednesday, only a handful of defectors had challenged Chávez's control.
The president reacted to the setback with a package of measures aimed at consolidating his rule, ahead of Wednesday's inauguration.
The new opposition contingent holds 65 of the 165 seats, while the Motherland for All party, which split with Chávez but hasn't formally joined the opposition Unity coalition, has two. The government holds 98 seats, but its majority exceeds the proportion of the national vote its candidates received.
``You're 98 in here,'' said legislator Alfonso Marquina -- in the first salvo from the opposition side -- ``but outside you only got 4.9 million votes, while we obtained 5.4 million.''
It was Marquina's speech that provoked the cries of ``murderers'' from the government side, in reference to human rights violations under pre-Chávez governments.
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