Chile Congress agrees to postpone referendum to October 25
Friday, March 20, 2020       03:22 WIB

Santiago, March 19, 2020 (AFP)
Chile's Congress on Thursday agreed to postpone to October 25 a constitutional referendum to allow the country time to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate speaker Adriana Munoz said the leaders of the main political parties agreed on the need to postpone the referendum, seen as key to ending the country's months-long social crisis.
A decree formalizing the measure by President Sebastian Pinera is expected to be a formality, as he had asked Congress to consider postponing the April 26 referendum until after September.
"The most important thing is to protect the health of our compatriots," Munoz said, hailing the "spirit of unity" in agreeing on the "necessary response."
Pinera earlier unveiled a $11.75 billion stimulus package to help the economy cope with the effects of the virus on the country, a major copper producer.
Chile has to date registered 342 cases of the coronavirus, which has distracted attention from the country's ongoing social crisis.
The South American nation has since October experienced its worst social unrest since its transition to democracy in 1990, fueled by outrage at Pinera and the elite that controls most of the country's wealth.
Thirty people have been killed in the protests, many as a result of a heavy-handed police response condemned as repressive by UN investigators. Thousands have been wounded.
A key demand of demonstrators was a change to the dictatorship-era constitution, established under the military rule of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
Pinera agreed in December to hold the referendum on April 26.
The conservative president said on Wednesday it would "not be prudent" to keep that date as health authorities expected coronavirus cases to peak in the country around then.
Recent opinion polls showed more than one-third of Chileans were in favor of changing the constitution.

Sumber : AFP