Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK
New assembly talks tough in Venezuela
The assembly opened at the Central University in Caracas
The president of the new Venezuelan constitutional assembly has declared that it holds sway over all other government institutions, despite a Supreme Court decision to the contrary.
The president of the assembly, Luis Miquilena, opened the session by alluding to its apparent right to dissolve other branches of government.
The assembly has six months to draft a new constitution, although the president has challenged it to come up with a document within three months.
The body is the centrepiece of his plan to erase what he says is the political stranglehold of the old parties and usher in a "peaceful revolution".
Mr Miquilena said the revolution would be pushed through "via dialogue and via understanding".
The Supreme Court ruled in April that the assembly did not have the right to abolish institutions until after it concluded its deliberations and the new constitution was approved by voters in a referendum early next year.
On Tuesday, the president called on the assembly to declare "a national emergency" that would limit congressional power and streamline government agencies.
"Venezuela is a sinking ship," he told reporters in the Caracas.
"We can't wait too long to do something before it sinks completely."