Chileans vote to pick writers of new constitution

Chileans took to the voting booth on Saturday in an election to decide who will draft the country's next constitution.

"The important thing is to be here now, precisely to continue in the same fight. Voting is more important than violence, let's say."

Fierce protests erupted in late 2019 over the country's social inequality.

A central demand was to change the current constitution, drafted in 1980 under Dictator Augusto Pinochet.

In a referendum last year to tear up the constitution, a majority voted for reform.

The sweeping elections will also determine the country's next mayors, governors, and local councillors.

By mid-morning on Saturday, voters were lined up to mark their multi-colored ballots.

Among the crowd was President Sebastian Pinera, who noted the day's historical significance.

"We have taken all precautions so that they are democratic, participatory, peaceful and safe elections. And that is why come and vote and make a contribution to the future of Chile."

Citizens have a full weekend to cast their ballots, as authorities seek to avoid large gatherings amid the global health crisis.