Sunday, July 25, 1999 Published at 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
Venezuelans back Chavez
Supporters of President Chavez celebrate in his trademark red beret
Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez have won an overwhelming majority of seats in the country's new Constitutional Assembly.
It now has six months to write a new constitution.
Mr Chavaz's critics are warning that the election result concentrates too much power in his hands.
They say the former paratrooper will use it to enshrine a military dictatorship.
But his supporters have hailed the result as a political and moral victory for a president bent on transforming the country.
He has said its first job should be to sack the country's Congress and Supreme Court and assume the powers of both.
Some 11 million of Venezuela's 23 million people were eligible to vote for the 1,171 candidates.
They included Mr Chavez's wife, his brother, 20 ex-military officers and five cabinet ministers.
In a televised address on the eve of the vote, the president said: "Our immense responsibility is nothing more and nothing less than to re-found the republic. The future of an entire people is at stake."
He has made constitutional reform the central plank of his political programme.
He proposed the new body to loosen the grip of traditional parties that he says have impoverished Venezuela, squandering its vast oil wealth and turning it into one of the world's most corrupt countries.
"There is no doubt that what is happening is an awakening of the people who for a long time have suffered in silence as they were being abused, raped and tarnished," he declared.