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James Reynolds in Santiago
"This the first time there's been a socialist president, in Chile, since Salvador Allende"
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The BBC's Stephen Cviic in Santiago
Huge cheers erupted in Mr Lagos's campaign headquarters
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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 11:47 GMT
Pinochet challenge for president

Mr Lagos's supporters on the streets of Santiago Mr Lagos's supporters on the streets of Santiago


Supporters of Chile's newly-elected president, Ricardo Lagos are calling for former dictator General Augusto Pinochet to be put on trial.

The call interrupted the president-elect's victory speech outside the presidential palace which was bombed during the coup led by Gen Pinochet in 1973.

When the crowd started chanting "Pinochet must be tried!" Mr Lagos told them Chile's courts were capable of applying justice to all its citizens but added that his priority would be to end the country's recession.


The two candidates The two candidates spoke after the results were announced
Mr Lagos beat his right-wing rival, Joaquin Lavin, by a margin of just 2.5% and will be the first socialist head of state since Salvador Allende who was overthrown by Gen Pinochet.

The 84-year-old general could soon be released from house arrest in the UK. The UK Government says he is too ill to be extradited to Spain where a judge wants him to stand trial for alleged human rights abuses.

In a speech at a rally near the presidential palace, Mr Lagos told his supporters he would be the president of all Chileans.

The pinochet File
Joaquin Lavin, who once worked in General Pinochet's government, congratulated and embraced Mr Lagos on his victory.

Thousands of Chileans took to the streets of the capital Santiago to celebrate the victory.

With nearly all votes counted, Mr Lagos had 51.3% to Mr Lavin's 48.6%, making it one of the closest races in Chile's history.


Pinochet Pinochet: Mr Lagos said he could stand trial in Chile

Mr Lavin had forced the election to a second round after the first round in December produced no clear winner - with only 0.5% separating the two men.

Mr Lagos is due to be inaugurated on 11 March for a six-year term, succeeding Eduardo Frei, a Christian Democrat who was constitutionally barred from re-election.

The 61-year-old economist will be the third president of the centre-left coalition, which has governed Chile since the return to democracy 10 years ago.

Pinochet factor

Mr Lagos was imprisoned briefly by General Pinochet in the mid-1980s and has previously supported efforts to get him sent home, saying he should be tried in Chile.

However neither Mr Lagos nor the pro-Pinochet Mr Lavin made much of the issue in their campaigns - both focusing instead on day-to-day matters such as health, education and unemployment.

Mr Lagos limited himself to a brief attack on Mr Lavin, saying it was a good thing Mr Lavin did not wish to discuss the past, because the past so clearly condemned him.

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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Media reports
Lagos vows to heal past wounds
17 Jan 00 |  Americas
Chile faces economic challenge
17 Jan 00 |  Americas
Profile: Ricardo Lagos
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Call for more Pinochet tests
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Last-ditch attempt to block Pinochet release
17 Jan 00 |  Americas
Victory for Pinochet opponent
12 Jan 00 |  Americas
Chile treads carefully around ruling

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