OPPOSITION parties in Chile were poised to celebrate an historic victory over the country's Premier, General Augusto Pinochet, this week following the results of Wednesday's plebiscite.
Independent polls just prior to the vote on Pinochet's future suggested a big majority for the "no" coalition, those who wanted to see Pinochet ousted as ruler.
General Pinochet seized power in Chile in 1974 from the democratically-elected Salvador Allende, and many observers feared that if the vote went against the military ruler, he would not accept it. If he does survive the vote, he will be guaranteed another eight years as premier.
One of those who has backed the "no" campaign, Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Poisson of Santiago, has gone into voluntary exile in Paris after claiming he was the victim of "Church black-balling".
The bishop said he had been "deprived of all pastoral work in the archdiocese of Santiago and been banned from exercising any responsibility . . ." because of his political views.
Shortly before he left for Paris, Bishop Poisson wrote a controversial article in a Chilean magazine.