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Chilean leader seeks OK to submit issues to a vote

President Augusto Pinochet announced Sunday he had asked Chile's military junta to approve a constitutional reform giving him the power to call a referendum on any issue of national importance.

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He said the aim of the reform, which would itself have to be approved by plebiscite, was to enable him to seek an opinion or a decision on electoral laws that are due to come into effect by 1989. That is the target date for a return to a form of democratic rule, 16 years after the military coup that brought him to power.

The President gave no indication why he wanted the junta, which acts as the country's legislature during the transition period, to give him the exclusive right to call a referendum instead of having to ask their approval.

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