Chilean lawmakers reach agreement to start work on new constitution

A general view of a polling station during the election for governors, mayors, councillors and constitutional assembly members to draft a new constitution that will replace Chile's charter, in Valparaiso, Chile, May 15, 2021. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

SANTIAGO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - (This Dec. 12 story has been corrected to remove incorrect reference to the agreement being between the government and opposition lawmakers in the first paragraph)

Chilean lawmakers on Monday announced an agreement to begin drafting a new constitution, three months after a referendum overwhelmingly rejected a progressive first text to replace a dictatorship-era charter.

The agreement would see the new constitution drafted over next year by a body of 50 so-called constitutional advisors elected by direct vote, based on a preliminary draft prepared by a commission of 24 experts.

It would be submitted for referendum in November or December next year, with mandatory public participation.

It comes after Chileans voted in September against a proposed new constitution that would have been one of the world's most progressive charters, leading President Gabriel Boric to reshuffle his cabinet. read more

"Today a new path has opened to progress towards a Constitution born from democracy," said pro-government socialist Senate President Alvaro Elizalde, who led the announcement late on Monday.

The agreement must now pass through Congress, where not all lawmakers support the plan. In talks that followed the September referendum, the number of advisors, and whether they would be elected, were among the most hotly contested issues.

Under this agreement, the advisors would be elected in April and the half of the experts would be appointed by parliamentary deputies and the other half by senators. read more

The agreement also proposed a parity between men and women, participation from indigenous peoples and that the proposals would need to be approved by three-fifths of the advisors.

Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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