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Wed, 20 Nov 2019 12:25 GMT

Chile’s President Refuses to Resign, Aims to Complete Term


7Dnews London

Wed, 06 Nov 2019 21:04 GMT

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has rejected the idea of resigning and believes his term will expire after nearly two years despite strong anti-government protests sweeping the country.

In an interview with the BBC on Tuesday November 5th, he said he was "democratically elected by a huge majority of Chileans".

He said he accepted responsibility for entrenched inequality, the driving force behind the protests, but he was "not the only one".

The 69-year-old billionaire said the protests had changed "everything" in the country, once a symbol of stability in the region, but added, “I hope for the better."

“I have faith in my duty as president and I swear to comply with that duty, to improve the quality of life of our citizens,” he said.

At least 18 people have been killed and thousands injured in two weeks of riots, protests and looting. The protests began in anger over rising public transport fees but have widened to include resentment over poor pensions, high utility rates, road charges and poor public services such as healthcare and education.

"We are at war against a powerful enemy,” Pinera said.

Last week, the president sacked eight ministers, including the interior and finance ministers and announced a new social plan that included raising the minimum wage and pensions.

Protests in Chile continued on Tuesday with less violence and calls for Pinera to step down.

The president now faces an attempt in Congress to remove him from office, led by opposition parties that accuse him of being responsible for systematic human rights violations during the protests.

“I am absolutely certain that none of these accusations will prosper because the solution in democracy is to respect the rules,” he told the BBC.

He said charges of human rights violations would be investigated. "There will be no impunity," he said.

He rejected claims that his social plan was "cosmetic" and said, “These problems have been accumulated over 30 years. What is important now is how as a society we react to what people are asking.”

Latin America