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11 Chile Parties Open Drive for Direct, Free Elections; Pinochet Rejects Move

August 26, 1986|From Reuters

SANTIAGO, Chile — Eleven Chilean political parties, including former supporters of the military government of President Augusto Pinochet, launched a national campaign Monday to press for direct and free elections.

Only elections would permit Chile to escape from a crisis of rising political violence, the parties, which range from the non-communist left to the conservative right, said in a statement.

The call marked the anniversary of the so-called National Accord, in which all but one of the same parties backing Monday's move pledged support for a series of principles to bring peaceful transition to democracy. The accord was heralded at the time as significant because of the wide backing it drew from across the political spectrum.

Sponsored by the archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Juan Francisco Fresno, its proposals included calling a national congress, bringing an end to the state of emergency which has existed on and off since 1978 and holding presidential elections.

Accord 'Incoherent'

But Pinochet rejected the accord as "incoherent" and refused even to discuss the matter at a meeting with Fresno.

Under the 1980 constitution, the military junta is to propose a single presidential candidate to be put to a plebiscite in 1989.

Of the original signatories to the accord, only the far-right National Union Party has refused to support the new campaign.

Meanwhile, left-wing parties Monday called for a two-day strike against the government.

The Popular Democratic Movement (MDP), a coalition of left-wing parties, backed a call by the Civic Assembly, a non-partisan opposition group, for a day of protest on Sept. 4, the traditional date for presidential elections.

But the MDP also urged the action be extended into a two-day work stoppage. "We call on all Chileans to paralyze the country from Arica to Magallanes during Sept. 4 and 5 . . . demanding the resignation of Pinochet and the establishment of an emergency government," the MDP statement said.

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