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Arroyo denies plan to extend term

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Arroyo denies term extension plan

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has denied planning to extend her time in office beyond next year.

In her annual state of the nation address to Congress, she said she would not seek to change the constitution and seek a second six-year term in power.

Protesters have warned of civil unrest if she does not step down when her current term ends next June.

Mrs Arroyo also used her annual address to discuss the prospects for peace with Islamic rebels in the restive south.

In a nearly hour-long speech, she then defended her government's achievements in education and improvements in infrastructure.

Opposition accusations

Under the Philippine constitution, a president should technically serve just one six-year term.

Protesters burn an effigy of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo inside a mock tank near the Philippine Congress on 27 July 2009
Thousands of opposition supporters protested near Congress

When Mrs Arroyo came to power in 2001, she replaced Joseph Estrada and served to the end of his term before taking over for her own term in 2004.

In recent months, her opponents have accused her of trying to amend the country's constitution to stay in power.

Many opposition supporters came out to protest as she made her address to Congress on Monday.

But Mrs Arroyo said: "I have never expressed the desire to extend myself beyond my term."

She added that she would defend democracy if threatened by violence in her last months in power - which analysts are taking as a warning to anyone plotting to remove her from office before her term is up.

The 62-year-old leader - the daughter of late president Diosdado Macapagal - has already survived several coup attempts and impeachment bids.

Later this week Mrs Arroyo is due to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House.

She told Congress that security issues and terrorism would be on the agenda for their talks.



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