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Sunday, May 31, 1998 Published at 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Estrada declared president

Joseph Estada (centre) said it was a victory for Philippine democracy

The Philippine opposition leader and former film star, Joseph Estrada, has been declared the winner of presidential elections held 18 days ago.

Estrada's victory in announced to loud applause
Mr Estrada, who beat the governing party's candidate by a wide margin, will take office on June 30 when the outgoing President, Fidel Ramos, stands down at the end of his six-year term.

"I want to thank all the people who have supported me, especially the Filipino masses," said Mr Estrada, who is especially popular with the poor.

"It will be a tough, long six years. I need every support and help I can get ... Of course I am very proud ... but I can foresee the problems I'll be facing as president of this country," he said on the announcement of his victory by Congress.

Mr Ramos said on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached in principle with Mr Estrada on the formation of a government of national unity.

The BBC Manila correspondent says that the peaceful transfer of power shows how the political system has matured since the overthrow of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

  • Mr Estrada's victory marks the second peaceful transfer of power since the overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos 12 years ago.

  • Mr Estrada won the 10-way race with 10.722 million votes, more than 6 million votes ahead of his nearest rival, the government candidate Jose de Venecia. The population of the Philippines is 70 million.

  • Mr Estrada has named most of his cabinet and laid out his programme for the next six years, which includes continuing Ramos's economic reforms, focusing on agriculture and ending rampant crime and violence.

  • Although counting the vote has taken 18 days, this was record time for the Philippines, where counting is still done manually, and voters had to write up to 30 names on their ballot papers.

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