President Augusto Pinochet said Saturday he will accept some constitutional reforms limiting the power of the armed forces before he leaves office next year after 16 years of military government.
Pinochet, the 73-year-old general who took power in a 1973 coup, outlined the acceptable reforms in a speech beginning his final year as president.Pinochet must turn over the presidency March 11, 1990, to the winner of a December election. The election is required under the 1980 military-written constitution because Pinochet lost a yes-no vote last year in which he asked citizens to give him another eight-year term.
Interior Minister Carlos Carceres, Pinochet's top domestic policy official, said the government will begin talks with political parties over the reforms next week. He said a package of reforms would be offered to Chileans in a referendum.
"All human works elaborated in a determined historic moment can be perfected in some aspects," Pinochet told several thousand guests in a government auditorium.
He said the government will accept reforms of a constitutional article that, in effect, outlaws the Communist Party. The changes would "reaffirm that the objective of this precept is not to persecute ideas," he said.
Other acceptable reforms include reducing emergency presidential powers, diluting the membership of the powerful National Security Council now dominated by the military and shortening the eight-year presidential term.
Pinochet did not mention another important reform demanded by the opposition: the abolition of appointed senators. The opposition wants direct election of all senators.