CHILE: Political Parties Agree on Path to New Constitution

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Political parties in Chile have agreed on a path to a new constitution, negotiators announced in Santiago de Chile, early Friday after weeks of protests.

Chileans are to vote on whether they want a new constitution in a referendum in April next year, representatives of the conservative government coalition and the opposition said.

The text of a new constitution is then to be put to the voters in another plebiscite.

“We want a peaceful and constructive way out of the crisis,’’ Senate President Jaime Quintana asserted.

“We will for the first time have a 100 per cent democratic constitution.’’

The current constitution was written during the rule of the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

In a recent poll, 78 per cent of Chileans said they were in favour of a new constitution.

The nearly month-long wave of protests has been highly violent, with more than 20 people killed and hundreds injured.

Marches in Santiago were largely peaceful on Thursday, while in the city of Valparaiso, protesters armed with sticks and stones clashed with police amid clouds of tear gas, broadcaster 24 Horas reported.

In a bid to defuse the situation, President Sebastian Pinera had earlier cancelled metro fare hikes, which initially sparked the protests and announced measures such as increases in the minimum wage and pensions and higher taxes for the rich.

But the measures did not calm the protesters and Pinera finally accepted their demands for constitutional reform.


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