Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 22:59 GMT
Venezuela is promised 'political revolution'
President Chavez meets supporters after his inauguration
The man who led a failed coup attempt seven years ago has been sworn in as Venezuela's President, promising to carry out a political revolution.
The former paratrooper announced a vote on his plan to create a constitutional assembly that would have the power to dissolve Congress, reorganise the judiciary and extend his presidential authority.
Saying that some reforms were too urgent to await a new constitution, he asked the congress, where his party does not have a majority, for special powers to fight poverty and restructure the country's $23bn foreign debt.
Mr Chavez won a landslide victory in December after a campaigning on a platform of fighting corruption in Venezuelan politics and instituting constitutional reform.
Buoyed by his promise to redistribute the country's vast oil wealth to help the poor he polled the largest majority for any Venezuelan President in 40 years.
Representatives from more than 60 countries, including 16 heads of state and government travelled to Caracas to attend the inauguration ceremony.
A self-proclaimed "soldier of the people", who has rejected both "savage" neo-liberalism and communism, Mr Chavez says he is on the same political wavelength as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Mr Chavez's supporters blamed the country's two main parties for squandering the world's largest oil reserves outside the Middle East and for leaving more than half the population destitute.
Political analysts are now wondering whether Mr Chaves can meet his supporters expectations without frightening away investors.