Chile's Constitution rewrite underway after chaotic start

SANTIAGO (BLOOMBERG) – Chile’s process to draft a new Constitution got underway on Sunday (July 4) after its start was postponed due to clashes between the police and protesters in downtown Santiago.

Ms Elisa Loncon, a representative of the Mapuche indigenous people, was elected as president by the constitutional convention of 155 delegates after two rounds of voting.

The inauguration had to be suspended earlier for several hours as police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse crowds in the capital.

Some elected assembly-members had refused to participate in the ceremony as long as police special forces remained near the building.

“This convention will transform Chile into a plurinational Chile, a multicultural Chile,” Ms Loncon said in a speech after her election.

Ms Loncon has a degree in English, a PhD in literature and also teaches Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche.

Ms Loncon was elected with support of constitutional assembly members from indigenous communities, the Frente Amplio left-wing coalition and some members of the Socialist party.

Drafting a new Constitution was one of the key agreements reached after social unrest gripped the country in October 2019. Mostly left-wing candidates and independents were elected in May to draft the new Constitution, with centre and right wing parties suffering major defeats.

The convention will have nine months, extendable to 12 months, to draft the new Constitution. Approximately 60 days after that, the new Constitution will be approved or rejected in a national plebiscite.

Chile will also have presidential and legislative elections in November of this year.

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