Chile president enacts election postponement

Santiago (AFP) –


Chile's President Sebastian Pinera enacted a law Tuesday to postpone by five weeks an election to choose a commission to rewrite the country's dictatorship-era constitution, amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

The vote was to have taken place on Sunday, but Pinera proposed that it be delayed, and received the backing of parliament.

"We did not think it prudent or convenient to hold elections this coming weekend," Pinera said as he signed the bill in Santiago.

The election to decide the members of a Constituent Assembly who will rewrite the constitution -- which has been in effect since the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-90) -- will now take place on May 15 or 16.

Campaigning would be suspended until April 28.

Pinera said the reasons for the postponement were "taking care of the health of our compatriots and secondly, taking care of the health of our democracy."

Chile has notched record new daily infections recently, regularly topping 8,000 -- a much higher number than during the first wave of the pandemic and despite a fast advancing vaccination campaign.

Chile's intensive care units are running at 95 percent occupancy.

Last October, Chileans voted overwhelmingly in favor of rewriting the constitution.

It had been one of the major demands when social unrest that lasted for months broke out in October 2019.