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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 01:01 GMT
Bachelet vow on gender equality
Chile's President-elect Michelle Bachelet alongside incumbent President Ricardo Lagos
Ms Bachelet said she wants to build a more equitable society
The Chilean President-elect, Michelle Bachelet, has pledged to name a cabinet with an equal number of men and women.

The mother-of-three also told a news conference on Monday that she would strive to root out Chile's embedded social divide.

She said she wanted "to create a country which is more prosperous, more just, a country of greater solidarity."

Ms Bachelet, 54, became Latin America's third woman directly elected president, following her poll victory on Sunday.

Steady hand

Turning to foreign affairs, she said she would try to improve relations with Peru and Bolivia - both of which have territorial disputes with Chile dating back to the 19th Century.

She said she supported the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, but added that every country should be allowed to join at its own pace.

Because I was the victim of hatred, I have dedicated my life to reverse that hatred and turn it into understanding
Michelle Bachelet

Ms Bachelet, who was jailed and tortured by Chile's former military junta, promised to build a more equitable and tolerant society.

She said: "Because I was the victim of hatred, I have dedicated my life to reverse that hatred and turn it into understanding, tolerance and - why not say it - into love."

She said she would not bring radical change to the country which has emerged into one of the region's strongest economies under the out-going administration.

"We will continue to do well what we have been doing well, maintaining a stable economy," said Ms Bachelet, who will be inaugurated on 11 March.

Her rival, conservative businessman Sebastian Pinera, congratulated her saying she represents "the struggle of millions of women to reach the position they deserve".

The centre-left leader became Chile's first woman president winning 53.5% of the poll, coming ahead in all but one of the country's 13 regions.

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