Chile leader Pinera says will not resign over protests

London (AFP) –


Chile's President Sebastian Pinera said Tuesday he will not resign in the face of deadly protests over inequality and poor social conditions that have entered their third week.

Asked by the BBC in an interview whether he will step down, the billionaire conservative leader said: "No."

"These problems have been accumulating for the past 30 years," Pinera said. "I am responsible (for) part of it and I assume my responsiblity, but I'm not the only one."

The violence gripping one of Latin America's most prosperous countries forced the government to cancel separate international economic and climate summits and open talks with the leftist opposition.

Pinera defended his decision to declare a state of emergency but promised to look into allegations of police violence and abuse.

"There are many alleged complaints about excessive use of force and if that took place I can guarantee you that it will be investigated," Pinera said.

"There will be no impunity," he said, defending the stepped up security measures as "democratic and constitutional".

Protesters clashed with police and looted stores Monday at the close of a huge rally in Chile's capital Santiago that saw demonstrators try to march on the presidential palace.

Pinera held inconclusive talks with opposition parties last week but made no reference to them in segments of the interview aired by the BBC.