Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the 1973 coup leader who lost a vote last week for a new eight-year presidential term, appears increasingly isolated politically after a call by a member of the ruling junta for an end to military rule.
Air force Gen. Fernando Matthei declared Tuesday it was time for civilian political leaders to govern the country, the first major sign of deep divisions within the ruling junta since Pinochet lost the plebiscite last week.Pinochet, 72, who came to power in the 1973 coup in which socialist President Salvador Allende died, failed to gain voter approval to extend his term by eight years. An open election will be held in 1989.
Matthei, speaking to reporters, also responded to declarations by Interior Minister Sergio Fernandez, who after the plebiscite twice stated that Pinochet was the strongest political force in the nation.
Fernandez said Pinochet's 43 percent of the vote made him the top political figure because the `no' vote, which totaled 54 percent, was divided among various opposition parties.