Americas

Chile says will hold plebiscite on constitutional reform

Government agrees to protesters' demands in Chile, announces much-awaited day of constitutional referendum

Vakkas Doğantekin   | 23.12.2019
Chile says will hold plebiscite on constitutional reform

ANKARA 

Chile will hold a plebiscite for constitutional reform on April 26, the nation's President Sebastian Pinera said Monday, amid massive deadly protests across the country.

A referendum on a new constitution was one of the key demands of Chileans who have been waging anti-government mass rallies over the past few months.

Pinera vowed on Twitter that the referendum which was approved by the Chilean Congress last week would launch a new era of effective citizen participation.

"Today we enact Constitutional Reform that leads to #Plebiscite2020 on April 26. In this process, Chileans will have the first word to agree on the mechanisms and the last word to approve the content. We must recover unity and dialogue to build a better Chile," he tweeted.

On April 26, Chileans will decide whether they want a new constitution and if that is a yes, whether the new document should be penned by an assembly elected by the people or by cooperation with the current lawmakers.


Chile protests

The troubling protests, which engulfed Chile in response to a now-suspended 4% transport fare hike, turned violent on Oct. 19, leaving dozens dead and thousands injured.

After months of dissent against the government of President Sebastian Pinera, Chileans last marched earlier in December on International Human Rights Day for the 352 people who lost their eye sight partially or totally during the protests.

They were carrying banner featuring an eye-drawing that read "the eyes of the people accuse the terrorist state."

According to the National Institute of Human Rights, more than 6,000 people have been arrested and 3,449 others injured over the past month.

Chilean prosecutors opened a total of 2,670 criminal investigations on human rights violations committed by security forces during the protests.

The president accepted protesters' demands earlier this month to change the constitution, which dates back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Pinera also announced concessions to roll back the fare hike, raise the minimum wage and place a hold on electricity prices until next year in a bid to contain strife.

Chile's lower house last week rejected a motion to impeach Pinera over allegations that he failed to manage the protests and human rights violations across the country.

Pinera, a conservative billionaire and former president, won Chile's presidency in December 2017, against his center-left opponent Alejandro Guillier.

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