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Bachelet Announces Presidential Bid In Chile

By EVA VERGARA

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) â¿¿ Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced her candidacy in November presidential elections on Wednesday, saying she would use a second term in office to address the country's enormous income inequality.

Bachelet, 62, returned to Chile following a two-year stint heading the U.N. women's agency in New York. She is widely seen as the center-left opposition's only hope of winning the Nov. 17 vote.

"I have taken the decision to be a candidate," she told cheering supporters in the municipality of El Bosque shortly after her arrival in Chile.

Bachelet, who governed Chile from 2006-2010 before ceding office to conservative President Sebastian Pinera, said that during her first term "there were things we didn't do well and some things remain to be done."

She said that her goal would be ending the inequality that plagues Chile, which has one of the world's largest gaps between rich and poor despite its economic successes.

Chile "is a country tired of abuse of power and Chileans are tired of not being taken into account," she said. "The enormous inequality in Chile is the center of this rage."

"I am not going to offer a program prepared between four walls ... I am going to cross the country to listen to people, to hear their proposals," she said.

Bachelet ended her first presidential term with nearly 80 percent approval ratings. And a recent poll by CEP Estudios Publicos consultancy said if the elections were to be held today she would easily win the presidency with 54 percent of the votes.

Without Bachelet, polls show support for Chile's center-left parties barely reaching 20 percent.

Bachelet will compete in Chile's June 30 party primaries to become the single candidate of Chile's left.

Whoever runs will have to be ready to tackle mounting social demands and frequent protests that already troubled Bachelet during her presidency and have harried Pinera even more. Pinera is the most unpopular president since Chile returned to democracy in 1990 after the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

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