Dignitaries from three continents gathered in the capital Wednesday to celebrate the inauguration of the constitution, which restores democratic freedoms suppressed in 21 years of military rule.

President Jose Sarney, the first civilian leader since the military regime ended in 1985, was to preside at the inauguration ceremony later Wednesday.The commemoration began in the morning with a Mass inside the white twin-domed congress building.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ulysses Guimaraes, greeted dignitaries from Latin America and Europe and from African nations that, like Brazil, speak Portuguese.