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Arroyo U-turn on re-election bid

Arroyo said she has the 'experience and vision' to lead for a futher term
Arroyo said she has the 'experience and vision' to lead for a futher term

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MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reversed her position Saturday, announcing that she will run for a six-year presidential term in 2004.

"I have deferred my retirement," she said to a crowd of cheering supporters.

"Some asked why I changed my mind. What matters more is that I changed my mind because there is a higher cause to change society ... in a way that flourishes our future.

"I will offer myself as the leader with the experience and vision necessary to change society, to achieve economic development, and eliminate poverty."

As vice-president, Arroyo rose to the country's highest post in January, 2001, through a military-backed people's uprising known as "EDSA 2," recalling the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' fall in 1986.

The revolt was an emotional verdict to the aborted impeachment trial of Arroyo's predecessor, Joseph Estrada, on corruption charges.

She rode on the prestige of her father Diosdado, a Philippine president in the 1960s, and an effective poster campaign that softened her image as a technocrat who belonged to the country's economic elite.

She was appointed to serve the remainder of Estrada's term until 2004, and had vowed not to seek another term.

In July, renegade Philippine forces staged a rebellion, accusing Arroyo's government of arming rebel groups and fanning the flames of the Muslim rebel insurgency in the southern Philippines so that the president can remain in power after her term expires next year.

The government called the accusation a "lie" and said the soldiers are playing on the fears of many Filipinos after Marcos' infamous 21-year term, during which he did the same thing.

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