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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Philippines charges 49 'for coup'
By Sarah Toms
BBC News, Manila

Gloria Arroyo, 3/3/06
Gloria Arroyo survived an impeachment attempt last year
The Philippine justice department has charged 49 people with rebellion over an alleged coup plot against President Gloria Arroyo in February.

They are accused of involvement in a bid to replace her with a military-led council. The government said the plot included plans to kill the president.

Among those charged are six leftist members of Congress, soldiers and communist rebels.

The congressmen have complained of persecution by political association.

Five have taken refuge in the House of Representatives since late February to avoid arrest.

'Lust for power'

Emmanuel Velasco, a state prosecutor investigating the rebellion complaints, said the alleged plotters were less motivated by love of country than by lust for power.

Mr Velasco said there was proof the six members of Congress allowed their offices to serve as fronts for protests against Mrs Arroyo.

The state prosecutor also said they used the facilities and finances of the lower House of Congress and the armed forces to try to overthrow the government.

Since last year, Mrs Arroyo has faced a crisis because of allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.

Some analysts say the government could be playing up threats to allow security forces a freer hand to deal with communists and other political opponents.

Coup plots are common in the Philippines, after two presidents were removed from office by popular revolt, backed by the military, in 1986 and 2001.

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