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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 00:57 GMT
Peru president gives poll warning
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, left, and House Speaker Dennis Haseter, R-Ill., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill
Mr Toledo (L) has better ties with the US than some neighbours
Peru's president has warned against damaging the country's stability, ahead of presidential elections in April.

"If you are not interested in building economic, political, legal stability then we will not have investment," Alejandro Toledo told the BBC.

His warning came amid polls showing rising support for nationalist former army officer Ollanta Humala.

In January Peru withdrew its ambassador to Venezuela after "interference" by President Hugo Chavez in its election.

Peruvian authorities were outraged when Mr Chavez praised Mr Humala and hit out at the conservative front-runner in the poll, Lourdes Flores, who he said was the candidate of the Peruvian oligarchy.

The diplomatic row erupted when Mr Humala attended a news conference in Caracas with the Venezuelan leader and Bolivia's President-elect Evo Morales.

Mr Chavez praised Mr Humala for "joining the battle" against the Free Trade Area of the Americas backed by Washington and a number of countries in the region.

Call for stability

President Toledo, who is not standing in the 9 April poll, is currently in Washington for meetings with President Bush and other senior politicians.

We grew 6.7% last year, we have been growing for 5 years on the average 5%, I don't want to destroy that
Alejandro Toledo

Many in Washington are watching the Peruvian election to see whether it will continue the recent left-wing trend in the region, and if so, what the likely nature of any new left-leaning government will be.

President Toledo told the BBC: "I have the responsibility to conduct an election that needs to be clean, transparent and on July 28 I will pass the presidential band to whoever the country has decided to elect.

"However I am interested in someone who will build on our accomplishments, correct our weaknesses, provide stability.

"We grew 6.7% last year, we have been growing for 5 years on the average 5%, I don't want to destroy that."

Speaking on BBC World television, President Toledo also called on the US to do more to ensure an equitable system of free trade between the two countries.

"We have a very straightforward relationship with the US, with President Bush. We agree in certain areas and we disagree in other areas," he said.

"I don't think that the president of the United States should come to Peru to fight poverty, it's our job.

"But what is a US responsibility is that, being part of the hemisphere, you have to turn and look at the south and be a little more consistent between what you say and what you do.

"We need free markets, we need to fight narco-trafficking together - it is in the best interests of all of us to reduce poverty - by reducing poverty we reduce the risk of instability."

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