Arroyo 'wins presidential poll'

By Sarah Toms
Manila

An independent election count in the Philippines shows President Gloria Arroyo defeated her film star rival Fernando Poe Junior.

But it will still be days before the official results are announced.

This was supposed to be a quick count to give Filipinos and foreign investors a clear idea of who won elections on 10 May, but it has dragged on, too.

Political parties are trading allegations of fraud as the long wait fuels fears of plots and unrest.

Round the clock

In Manila students, business people and even nuns have helped Namfrel, an independent watchdog whose count usually mirrors the official results.

The volunteers have worked around the clock as election returns trickled in from 35 million voters on several thousand islands.

Based on nearly 80% of the total ballots, Namfrel says President Gloria Arroyo looks to have won a fresh turn with 39% of the vote.

Her main challenger, action movie star Fernando Poe Junior has 37%.

Three others split the rest.

Namfrel says it had to leave about seven million votes uncounted because of technical problems, disparities with official numbers and some illegible returns.

Fears

The slow pace of the official and unofficial counts has fuelled complaints of fraud by opponents of Mrs Arroyo and rumours of plots to destabilise the country.

Guillermo Luz, Secretary General of Namfrel, says there were some irregularities, but they all seem to be confined to races for thousands of local posts.

The potential for unrest cannot be taken lightly in the Philippines after two people power uprisings and at least nine coup attempts in the last 18 years.

While there have been no outward signs of instability, tension is high after the election.

The long wait for the official results which are not likely to come until mid-June is only adding to the uncertainty.

05/06/2004

Bron : BBC News

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