President Augusto Pinochet conceded defeat in his bid for eight more years in power but indicated he will stay in office until his term expires in March 1990 and may remain a key political figure as army commander.
Scattered street demonstrations were reported in outlying areas of the capital Friday following Pinochet's concession Thursday night that he lost a plebiscite asking voters to extend his 15-year rule.In a working-class neighborhood on Santiago's south side, Patricio Palma Navarrete, 30, died in unclear circumstances and unidentified gunmen opened fire on protesters trying to organize a caravan of automobiles to celebrate Pinochet's defeat, wounding a 20-year-old woman, police said.
Demonstrators waving Chilean flags and banners stopped motorists, pounded on car roofs with their fists, and let drivers go on after they honked their horns four times to the rhythm of the chant, "He's going to fall."
The 72-year-old army general, wearing his white dress uniform, broke a one-day silence Thursday night to accept the results of Wednesday's plebiscite in which Chileans rejected his bid for eight more years in office by 55 percent to 43 percent. The remaining votes were null or blank.
"I recognize and accept the majority verdict," said Pinochet.
Opposition leaders demanded Pinochet step down immediately and appoint an interim government to hold general elections.
But in his concession speech, Pinochet reminded Chileans that the constitution setting his current presidential term until March 11, 1990, remains in effect.
"Neither the constitution nor ideology were at stake in the recent plebiscite," said Pinochet, who has ruled Chile with an iron fist since the bloody overthrow in 1973 of elected Marxist President Salvador Allende, who died in the coup.
"There is no room to alter the constitutional order of the republic, and nobody has a mandate from the people to twist what has already been decided," Pinochet said.
The present constitution, which opposition leaders want reformed, grants the military broad powers through a National Security Council, and it allows Pinochet to name a third of the senate.
Pinochet also retains the powerful post of army commander, a position he could hold for at least four more years.
Pinochet's Cabinet resigned Thursday, a traditional gesture after a president suffers a political defeat, but at night the government announced the resignations were rejected.
Riot police fired tear gas cannisters and water cannons Thursday in daylong skirmishes with demonstrators who celebrated Pinochet's defeat in rallies near the presidential palace, in a downtown shopping district and at other sites.
In the largest clash, police took on an estimated 30,000 demonstrators several blocks from the presidential palace just before Pinochet conceded defeat.
There were no reports of injuries or arrests and Carabineros, or national police, used more restraint than in previous demonstrations.
In Washington, the State Department hailed the Chilean voters for their peaceful turnout, saying it was "an impressive demonstration of the power of the ballot box. We likewise congratulate the Chilean government for carrying out its pledge of an impartial and orderly plebiscite.