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Last Updated: Friday, 13 January 2006, 02:02 GMT
Chile candidates in final rallies
Michelle Bachelet
Michelle Bachelet has a five-point lead, a poll has suggested
Chile's two presidential hopefuls have ended their campaigns ahead of Sunday's run-off vote with huge rallies.

Opinion polls suggest the governing centre-left coalition's candidate, Michelle Bachelet, could become Chile's first woman president.

At least 50,000 people came to see Ms Bachelet in the capital Santiago, while centre-right candidate Sebastian Pinera drew thousands in Valparaiso.

The campaigns have become increasingly bitter in recent days.

Mr Pinera has alleged that the apparatus of government, and not Ms Bachelet's campaign team, has been running her campaign.

She earlier accused Mr Pinera - a billionaire businessman - of using his vast wealth to buy support.

'A woman's word'

Addressing crowds in Santiago, Ms Bachelet promised to create a more just, more modern and more equal society in what is still a very conservative country.

"My government will be by the people and for the people," she said. "I will say what I think and I will do what I say, my word as a woman."

Mr Pinera used his address in the historic port city of Valparaiso to return to the two dominant themes of the campaign, promising to create a million new jobs and fight crime, something he accused the current coalition of failing to do.

Sebastian Pinera
Sebastian Pinera is a businessman and former senator

He asked the crowds: "Does a government which in 16 years has failed to give work and security to the Chilean people deserve another four years?"

Mr Pinera said the moment had come to change the country's leadership and with it the life of millions of Chileans, adding that his government would bring a breath of fresh air to the nation.

A Mori poll published on Thursday, ahead of the final rallies, suggested Ms Bachelet had a five-point lead.

If she wins, she will be the fourth consecutive president from the centre-left coalition known as the Concertacion, which has governed Chile since the end of military rule in 1990.

Ms Bachelet, 54, was defence minister under outgoing President Ricardo Lagos.

A doctor and a single mother, Ms Bachelet is seen as an unusual choice for the presidency in a country considered one of the most socially conservative in South America.

In the first round of voting in December, Ms Bachelet won 46% of the vote, falling short of the 50% required for an outright victory over the other three candidates.

Mr Pinera - who polled 25% - has received the backing of third-placed candidate, Joaquin Lavin, who received 23% of the vote.

The 56-year-old former senator and businessman is worth an estimated $1.2bn.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A look at Chile's two remaining presidential candidates



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