Bomb blast on Philippines island

One person has been killed and at least three others were injured in a bomb explosion on the southern Philippines island of Jolo, security officials say.

An explosive device was thrown at a military vehicle, but it missed its target, hitting passers-by instead.

It is not clear whether the attack was linked to Monday's election, which was marred by widespread violence.

Abu Sayyaf militants have been conducting attacks in the region for many years.

Police said the attack happened near a building where election ballots were being counted, the Associated Press news agency reported.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two town halls in the northern Philippines were also attacked in election-related violence, police said on Wednesday.

Ballot boxes were burned in each building, and one policeman was shot dead, AP said.

As ballot counting continues, unofficial surveys give different pictures of the possible result.

An exit poll by Social Weather Stations (SWS) on Tuesday showed President Gloria Arroyo ahead of her main rival Fernando Poe Junior, a film star without political experience, by 40% to 32%.

But an unofficial count of 1.8% of total ballots by the independent poll watchdog Namfrel suggested Mr Poe was leading Mrs Arroyo by 9%.

The official ballot result will not be known for another month.

Fraud claims

More than 90 people were killed in violence during the campaign, which was also marred by allegations of electoral fraud.

Mr Poe's supporters have accused Mrs Arroyo's camp of numerous irregularities, including vote-buying and harassment of voters, according to AP.

According to reports in the local press, some voters were handed envelopes of cash or free lunches if they voted for certain candidates.

Other voters complained that the indelible ink aimed at preventing double voting washed off with suspicious ease.

Mr Poe's United Filipino Coalition (KNP) warned in a statement on Wednesday of a "people power" protest if the election count was "tainted with fraud".

Such bloodless uprisings deposed former President Joseph Estrada in 2001 and Fernando Marcos' regime in 1996.

Gloria Arroyo appealed on Tuesday for the honest counting of votes, but brushed off the accusations against her supporters, insisting the election was "generally peaceful, orderly and clean".

"The important thing now is we must leave behind the rancour that unfortunately characterised the campaign," she said.

Presidential race

In all, the result of Monday's election will decide the president, vice president, 12 senators, 200 members of the House of Representatives and 17,000 posts such as governor and town mayors.

If Mrs Arroyo wins the race for the top job, she will be given her first real mandate.

Although she has been in power for three years, she inherited the presidency from Joseph Estrada, who was ousted as leader by street protests in 2001.

The BBC's correspondent in Manila, Sarah Toms, says the president's selling point is her experience, although many analysts see her three years in office as unremarkable.

In contrast, action movie hero Mr Poe - a political novice - has staged his campaign around his fame and personality.

He let an early advantage slip away by relying on image rather than substance, our correspondent says.

The other three runners - Raul Roco, a former education secretary, former police chief Panfilo Lacson, and Eduardo Villanueva, an evangelist - are trailing well behind the two front-runners, according to early exit polls.

12/05/2004

Bron : BBC World

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