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Wednesday, July 8, 1998 Published at 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK

World: Americas

Peru withdraws army from universities

Peruvian soldiers have been withdrawn from universities

The Peruvian Government has announced the withdrawal of the army from universities and colleges across the country.

Troops were stationed in educational establishments on the orders of President Alberto Fujimori seven years ago.

The BBC's South America correspondent Richard Collings: "Soldiers ordered out of classrooms"
The government said at the time that an army presence was necessary to guard against infiltration by the left-wing Shining Path guerrilla group.

Many of the group's followers were traditionally recruited from places such as San Marcos College in the capital, Lima, Peru's oldest university.

In a speech to parliament, Peru's Chief Minister, Javier Valle Riestra, confirmed he had ordered soldiers to leave the country's classrooms immediately.

Mr Valle said from now on there would be no army presence or weapons in colleges and universities, just teachers, students and libraries.

Human rights concerns

The BBC South American correspondent says that although the threat by the rebels has not altogether disappeared, the Peruvian Government is anxious to show the international community that it is taking steps to improve its human rights record.

Our correspondent says the rebels now operate only in secluded areas of the Peruvian jungle. Their influence has waned since Shining Path's leader, Abimael Guzman, was captured by government forces in 1992.

In the month since his appointment as chief minister, Senor Valle has made pledges to speed up the judicial process.

The country's government has been worried by the pressure being placed on it by international human rights groups claiming thousands of people in Peruvian prisons are awaiting a fair trial.

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