Uruguayans, voting for the first time in nine years, on Sunday (30 November) overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional change that would have given the military a permanent role in running the country.
CU Message painted on wall in Montevideo Uruguay (Vote No Parti Nationale P.C.).
CU PULL OUT TO GV Poster in favour of Yes vote.
GV Street scene with crowds queueing to vote. (2 SHOTS)
GV Sample 'Yes' and 'No' voting cards.
GV INTERIOR People voting, placing slips in box. (2 SHOTS)
CU PULL OUT TO GV Government building.
SV President Aparicio Mendez entering voting station and placing his vote in ballot box.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Uruguayans, voting for the first time in nine years, on Sunday (30 November) overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional change that would have given the military a permanent role in running the country. The civilian-military government presented the plebiscite as a first step in a return to democracy. The small nation of three million people, once a showcase of democracy, has been for the past seven years under indirect military rule.
SYNOPSIS: The most controversial provision in the proposed constitutional change was a National Security Council composed of leaders of the armed forces. It called for a presidential election in 1981, with a single candidate chosen by the military and the re-emerging two political parties.
Those who failed to vote without official exemption faced heavy penalties. The polling period was extended by two hours, after long queues formed.
Only ten percent of Uruguay's two million voters abstained, on of the lowest margins in the country's history. The 'No' votes won by almost fifty-eight percent.
Some politicians saw the results as both a rejection of the draft proposal and a vote of no-confidence in military involvement in government.
The military tool control in 1973, a year after the previous civilian administration finally stamped out guerrilla activities. President Aparicio Mendez and his junta introduced severe press censorship, banned all left-wing parties and arrested thousands of people. Thousands more fled into exile. President Mendez in a television address before the plebiscite, told the people that a rejection of the constitution would delay but not change the military's plans to restore limited democracy.