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Saturday, November 13, 1999 Published at 02:23 GMT

World: Americas

Venezuela to get new name

Members of Venezuela's constutional assembly have agreed, following pressure from the president, Hugo Chavez, that the country's name should be changed.

They voted to rename it the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in honour of the nineteenth century Latin American independence figure, Simon Bolivar.

The assembly initially rejected the proposal in a vote last month, arguing that altering passports, currency and official documents to reflect the name-change would be too expensive.

But after Mr Chavez lobbied his supporters, the assembly agreed to reverse its decision.

The name-change proposal will be included in the new draft constitution which will be put to a referendum next month.

Correspondents say the latest vote will fuel opposition criticism that the assembly is merely rubber-stamping Mr Chavez's proposals without proper consideration.

The assembly has already voted to extend Mr Chavez's mandate and allow his re-election.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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