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The BBC's James Reynolds, in Lima
"There has been an angry reaction to President Fujimori's resignation from his cabinet"
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The BBC's Claire Marshall, in Lima
"The question now is who will run the country?"
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Monday, 20 November, 2000, 01:39 GMT
Fujimori: Decline and fall
Police face anti-Fujimori protesters in the capital Lima
Until last autumn, Alberto Fujimori looked to be in a fairly commanding position.

He had overcome domestic and international criticism of his election victory in May.

He had the support of the armed forces. He had a majority in Congress, and the opposition was divided.

Mr Fujimori: Weakened by Montesinos
But everything began to unravel in mid-September, with the broadcast of one short video tape.

The tape, obtained by the opposition, showed powerful intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, apparently bribing an opposition member of Congress.

The broadcast of the video caused a dramatic change in the political atmosphere.

For the first time, there was evidence of potential criminal activity against the president's closest and most controversial adviser.


Within days, President Fujimori surprised the country by announcing that new elections would be held and that he would step down early. The date for his resignation was set for July 2001.

But it gradually became clear that Alberto Fujimori would not be able to stay on until then. He was severely weakened by the actions of Vladimiro Montesinos, who left Peru in late September only to return and go into hiding a month later.

The president's inability to arrest his former adviser was a sign to many that Mr Fujimori was not in full control of the country and over the last two months the opposition managed to regain its strength.

To his supporters, Mr Fujimori is the man who saved Peru from the twin evils of terrorism and economic collapse. To his opponents, he is an authoritarian strongman who has ridden roughshod over the country's democratic institutions in order to preserve his hold on power.


An agricultural engineer born of Japanese parents, Mr Fujimori was a politcal unknown until weeks before the presidential elections in 1990 in which he surprisingly defeated the centre-right coalition candidate, the author Mario Vargas Llosa.

He inherited a country on the verge of economic collapse and racked by political violence.

Within weeks he began implementing a radical programme of free-market economic reforms. Though it brought great hardship it ended rampant hyperinflation and paved the way for sustained economic growth.

Mr Fujimori also moved quickly to tackle the left-wing rebels whose 10-year insurgency had caused thousands of deaths and brought the country to the brink of chaos.

In 1992, with the support of the military, he dissolved the Peruvian Congress and courts and seized dictatorial powers.

Under international pressure to restore democracy, Mr Fujimori rewrote the constitution and reopened the Congress which was then dominated by his supporters.


But while many Peruvians accepted his authoritarian methods as a necessary evil in the fight gainst the rebels, a growing number began to voice concern that these same methods were being employed against his democratic opponents.

His critics accused him of using the intelligence service - led by the shadowy Vladimiro Montesinos - to intimidate and spy on opponents

The criticism increased when he announced he was to stand for an unprecedented third successive presidential term. Opposition politicians declared the move illegal, as under the constitution he introduced in 1993 only two terms are allowed.

When the courts upheld the view of the opposition he sacked several judges.

As the election approached allegations of dirty-tricks increased.

In the weeks leading up to the election, his commanding lead in the opinion polls was eroded by support for Alejandro Toledo, a former World Bank economist.

Control of Congress

In the event, Mr Fujimori came out on top.

A series of opposition defections since May restored the president's majority in Congress but it emerged that it may have been as a result of bribes.

Broadcast of the video tape evidence was the beginning of the end.

In mid-November the oppositon won control of Congress for the first time in eight years. This was the final blow for Alberto Fujimori.

He extended a trip to Asia amid rumours that he was seeking political asylum.

When news of his resignation came, it was of little surprise.

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See also:

18 Nov 00 | Americas
Montesinos accused of new crimes
15 Nov 00 | Americas
Secret dungeons found in Peru
14 Nov 00 | Americas
Pressure piled on Fujimori
26 Oct 00 | Americas
Hunt for Peru spy chief
27 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru halts spy investigation
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