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The BBC's Claire Marshall in Lima
"Alan Garcia's return from exile was met by crowds of cheering supporters"
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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 08:03 GMT
Exiled Garcia back in Peru
Garcia arrives back at Lima airport
Alan Garcia was met by cheering crowds of supporters
The former president of Peru, Alan Garcia, has arrived back in Lima after spending eight years in exile in neighbouring Colombia.

Mr Garcia is planning to seek re-election in next April's vote to choose a successor to President Alberto Fujimori.

The former president smiled and saluted his supporters who greeted him with cries of "Alan, Alan" as he stepped off the commercial flight from Bogota.

After greeting his followers, the former president immediately hit the campaign trail, leaving to address a rally in the centre of town.

Last week, the Peruvian Supreme Court annulled corruption charges against Mr Garcia, following a recommendation by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Mr Garcia was facing three separate charges relating to his term in office between 1985 and 1990.

Mr Fujimori was dismissed by the Peruvian Congress in November.

Controversial figure

Mr Garcia fled Peru in 1992 amid allegations of fraud and with the economy in tatters.

Inflation was at over 7,000% and people were forced to queue in the streets for even basic necessities such as bread and sugar.

Mr Garcia's critics say he was a charmer who bankrupted the country.

His supporters praise his principles and say his only crime was not to realise the financial consequences of trying to improve the lot of all Peruvians.

Supporters have already daubed "Alan President" on walls around the capital.

Strong candidate

BBC Lima correspondent Claire Marshall says that though most Peruvians saw his period as president as a complete disaster, few are willing to write off Mr Garcia as a candidate.

He already has a 12% approval rating in the polls without having formally launched his campaign.

He is backed by one of Peru's oldest and best-organised political parties, which could soon see him move into second place behind election favourite Alejandro Toledo.

Our correspondent says another advantage for Mr Garcia is having avoided the scandal currently engulfing Peru's Congress over the release of videos showing numerous ministers apparently being bribed by disgraced former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

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See also:

27 Jan 01 | Americas
Peru shocked by 'Vladi video' theft
21 Jan 01 | Americas
Montesinos relatives arrested
14 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fujimori agrees to questioning
28 Dec 00 | Americas
Peru hunts fugitive via internet
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