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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Peru military chiefs exit amid scandal
Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori
Alberto Fujimori left power in disgrace
Peru's interim President, Valentin Paniagua, has accepted the resignations of the country's military chiefs, after they were exposed backing the disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori.

Wanting to avoid adding a new unsettling factor into the electoral process, we have decided to accept their resignations

Valentin Paniagua
The army, navy and air force chiefs - Carlos Tafur, Victor Ramos and Pablo Carbone - offered to resign on Monday, after the release of videos showing them signing documents endorsing Mr Fujimori's attempt to seize dictatorial powers in 1992.

The military commanders said they were forced to sign the document by Mr Fujimori's fugitive spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who used blackmail in running the armed forces.

Valentin Paniagua
Mr Paniagua said the three men would be replaced soon
Mr Paniagua said the three men would be replaced by officers who were not involved in the scandal, but he did not name them.

He did not mention police chief Armando Santisteban, who also tendered his resignation on Monday.

"Wanting to avoid adding a new unsettling factor into the electoral process, we have decided to accept their resignations," he said in a televised address to the nation.

Government support

The resigning commanders were appointed last November as part of a purge of high-ranking officials in the military.

The previous military leadership was viewed as remaining loyal to Mr Fujimori and Mr Montesinos.

Vladimiro Montesinos, former head of Peruvian intelligence services
Montesinos built up an all-consuming web of corruption
The Peruvian Congress has recently been releasing videos taken in March 1999, showing hundreds of officers signing pledges endorsing Mr Fujimori's 1992 so-called "auto-coup".

In the coup, the former president deployed troops to dissolve the opposition-controlled Congress and temporarily close the courts.

President Paniagua's government earlier this month expressed support for the current police and military high command, arguing they were forced to sign the endorsements of Mr Fujimori by their superiors at the time.

On the run

There have been calls in Peru for all officers who backed Mr Fujimori to go.

Analysts say Mr Montesinos drew hundreds of officers and officials into a web of corruption, either through promotions or other favours.

They say that a purge of all officers tainted by corruption would cripple the Peruvian military completely.

Mr Fujimori's 10-year rule ended in November last year after he fled to Japan, amid mounting corruption scandals surrounding Mr Montesinos.

The former intelligence services chief is still on the run. He faces charges of drug-trafficking, arms smuggling, bribery and corruption.

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See also:

06 Apr 01 | Americas
Peru general faces drugs charges
09 Apr 01 | Americas
Fujimori stays silent
07 Feb 01 | Americas
New bribe claim in Peru election
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