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Chile's Piñera names envoy to Argentina after nepotism row

The conservative billionaire originally announced in April that his brother Pablo Piñera would represent Chile in Argentina, before backtracking after opposition outrage.

Wednesday 23 May, 2018
Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. Foto:Noticias Argentinas

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Chile's President Sebastián Piñera has named his new ambassador to Argentina, following a row in which opposition outrage forced him to back down over the initial choice of his brother for the sensitive diplomatic post.

Pinera instead appointed lawyer Sergio Urrejola as ambassador in Buenos Aires. Urrejola "has already received approval" from President Mauricio Macri's government, Chile's Foreign Ministry said.

The appointment puts a lid on Pinera's first scandal as president since being elected to succeed the outgoing Michelle Bachelet in March.

The conservative billionaire announced in April that his brother Pablo Piñera would represent Chile in Argentina, a key post given the political and commercial ties between the two nations.

But outraged opposition lawmakers filed an appeal challenging the legality of the appointment and Piñera was forced to back down, after making an official visit to Argentina at the end of April.

According to the Santiago Times, Urrejola was the "helmsman of the Arbitration and Mediation Center of the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago and a counsellor of the Bar Association."

The Chilean-based publication says Urrejola previously held a number of key positions, including as the president of the Council of Defense of the State, the director of Chile's National Television network and as a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Santiago.

- TIMES/AFP

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