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Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK


World: Americas

Constitutional rewrite begins in Venezuela


In Venezuela, members of the assembly elected last month to rewrite the constitution have convened for the first time.

The assembly, which will have far-ranging powers, is almost completely dominated by supporters of the president, Hugo Chavez.

They occupy 123 out of 131 seats. The president of the assembly, Luis Miquilena, told the members they had an historic role to change Venezuela's political system. Mr Chavez has said the aim is to make Venezuela more democratic and free of corruption, and he's urged the assembly to draw up a new constitution within three months instead of the six-month deadline.

His opponents say Mr Chavez - who led an attempted coup in 1992 - will use the assembly to enshrine a military dictatorship.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service



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