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1986: Corazon Aquino is Philippines president

The new Philippines president Corazon Aquino is sworn in today, bringing to an end years of dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos.

Former leader Mr Marcos, who changed the constitution in 1973 to give himself absolute powers, was threatening to go ahead with his own swearing-in ceremony today at his heavily-guarded palace.

However, the United States, which has supported him in office since he was first elected in 1965 finally withdrew its backing three days ago.

Mrs Aquino, who will spend the day appointing her Cabinet, will make improving the lot of the poor one of her first priorities.

Exile in Hawaii

In her first news conference she announced that she would not be living in the presidential palace, as it was not fitting for the leader of such an impoverished nation.

She also urged the people to be patient, saying the problems inflicted by 20 years of Marcos's corrupt rule could not be remedied overnight.

Mr Marcos has been flown from Clark Air Force base, where he had been given temporary haven, into exile in Hawaii.

He had been accused of cheating during the elections on 7 February to deprive Mrs Aquino's party of victory.

Since then he has attempted to retain control by force. He announced a state of emergency and said he was seizing television and radio stations, newspapers and public utilities.

But two senior members of his government, Defence Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and chief of staff Lieutenant-General Fidel Ramos, announced on Saturday they were switching loyalties and backing Mrs Aquino as the country's president.

Mrs Aquino was persuaded to enter politics after her late husband, Benigno Aquino, was shot dead in 1983 when he returned to the Philippines from exile.

The assassination led to a period of political turmoil, which ended with the election of Mrs Aquino.

Vote rigging

Mr Enrile and General Ramos have come clean about their role in the government's corrupt attempts to rob Mrs Aquino of victory at the polls.

Mr Enrile confessed that his home district had been required to produce a quote of 350,000 spurious votes to window-dress the overall result.

General Ramos gave details of how Marcos had brazenly turned the armed forces into a political machine for his personal gain.

In Context
Mrs Aquino was succeeded by her Defence Minister Fidel Ramos in 1992.

During her period in office, she attempted to impose democracy.

A new democratic constitution was brought in in 1987, but despite this and her massive popularity she continued to face coup attempts from Marcos loyalists.

Although Ramos was her choice as successor, as a Protestant, he was not universally popular with the Catholic church.

Mrs Aquino retired from public life but maintained an interest in politics and was instrumental in the overthrow of President Joseph Estrada in 2001 and appointment of Gapploria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In 2005 she accused Arroyo of rigging the 2004 elections. She survived an opposition attempt to impeach her.


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