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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 00:10 GMT
Peru's new PM sworn in
President  Paniagua (left) and Javier Perez de Cuellar
President Paniagua (left) and Javier Perez de Cuellar
Former UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Peru.

He was appointed by interim President Valentin Paniagua who will lead the country to new elections scheduled for next April.

Alberto Fujimori
Fujimori continues to plead his innocence
Mr de Cuellar, who is 80 year old, formally assumed the role of Prime Minister of Peru in a ceremony in central Lima.

A highly respected figure in Peru, he ran against Mr Fujimori for the presidency in 1995. Mr de Cuellar will also hold the position of foreign minister.

He was selected by caretaker President Valentin Paniagua, to help in the daunting task of preparing Peru for free and fair elections in eight months' time.

In his acceptance speech Mr de Cuellar said that the priority of the new cabinet is to ensure that this process is impartial and transparent.

US approval

The United States has indicated it is willing to work with Mr Paniagua.

The US State Department welcomed the smooth transition following former President Alberto Fujimori's departure and urged Mr Paniagua to carry out reforms to ensure that next year's elections are free and fair.

According to news agency reports, a State Department official said Mr Paniagua's government could expect US help in carrying out democratic reforms and fighting illegal drugs.

Fujimori may return

Meanwhile, Mr Fujimori, speaking to reporters from a hotel room in Tokyo, has said that he is still considering whether to return to Peru and run for Congress in the April elections.

Vladimiro Montesinos
Mr Montesinos triggered Mr Fujimori's downfall with a bribery scandal
Mr Fujimori, who resigned earlier this month, is continuing to deny allegations of corruption alleging that his fugitive former chief advisor, Vladimiri Montesinos, is to blame for scandals that have tarnished his reputation.

A state attorney investigating corruption allegations against Mr Montesinos said on Monday that evidence had emerged linking Mr Fujimori to allegations of money-laundering.

"As the days have gone by, and as we could have expected, a set of evidence has begun to appear that at least merits preliminary investigation," attorney Jose Ugaz told a Peruvian radio station.

He said he wanted to take evidence from Roberto Escobar, the brother of the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, "who has said he can prove Montesinos received $1m with the knowledge of the then president for his electoral campaign."

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See also:

28 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Fujimori's uncertain status
24 Nov 00 | Americas
Peru welcomes new prime minister
18 Nov 00 | Americas
Montesinos accused of new crimes
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