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Imelda Marcos scraps presidential candidacy

Dressed in black and close to tears, Imelda Marcos withdrew from the presidential race Wednesday, ending her quest to regain dominance in Philippine politics.

Still, the move could allow her to avoid prison with a presidential pardon and enjoy a share of her late husband's wealth, which critics say was ill-gotten.

The widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos faces up to 12 years in prison for graft. Free on bail pending an appeal, she also faces about 100 other criminal and civil actions in connection with her husband's 20-year rule.

Mrs. Marcos, 68, said at a news conference that she was pulling out "to save the Filipino people from the ultimate injustice of a possible bloody election."

Mrs. Marcos attributed her decision to concerns about election fraud and violence, but her support rating was 2 percent.

Mrs. Marcos said she will endorse one of the remaining 10 candidates. It appears she will choose either the main opposition candidate, Vice President Joseph Estrada, or the ruling party's candidate, House Speaker Jose de Venecia.

With just a few weeks left in the campaign, both Estrada and de Venecia are likely to be eager to offer Mrs. Marcos a deal.

That could involve a pardon and a pledge to split about half a billion dollars in Marcos' Swiss bank accounts between the government and the Marcos family.

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