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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 02:35 GMT 03:35 UK
Peru's Toledo embraces Inca roots
Children carrying Peruvian flags dance at the ceremony at the ruins of Sacsayhuaman
Peru's rich heritage on display
Peru's first president of native Indian origin, Alejandro Toledo, has honoured the country's Inca heritage on his first full day in office. BBC correspondent Claire Marshall travelled with him to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

After the symbolic ritual in Machu Picchu, President Alejandro Toledo flew by helicopter to an ancient fortress overlooking the city of Cuzco, which was once the capital of the Inca empire.

A man dances during the ritual at Sacsayhuaman
A spectacular ceremony greets the new president
Under the scorching mountain sun, thousands of people lined the hillsides of Sacsayhuaman, awaiting the arrival of their new leader.

A diverse array of local indigenous groups, wearing spectacular costumes, performed songs and dances, to entertain the crowds.

Men dressed in plumed headdresses were reminiscent of Inca warriors.

Small children wearing peasant dress of animal skins skipped to the traditional mountain music booming from loudspeakers across the valley.

Hundreds of rainbow flags, the Cuzco colours, adorned the massive stone walls of the ruins.

Peruvian pride

There was clear sense of pride in the Peruvian national identity and tradition.

The President's Belgian-born wife, Eliane Karp, told the BBC that the restoration of the people's dignity and self-respect, destroyed by ten years of Alberto Fujimori's corrupt government, was one of the most important tasks for the next government.

People carrying banners demanding more work
Toledo says his main aim is to help the poor of Peru
"I think it's vital to create jobs. It's vital to have the economy start and it's also vital to have them feel their pride," she said.

Participants and spectators alike were optimistic about having Alejandro Toledo as a leader.

Hard task

However, it is clear that he will have to work hard to deliver on his election promises to create more jobs and raise wages.

Enrique Zileri, owner of top political magazine Caretas, says that the "picture postcard effect" will wear off rapidly.

According to Mr Zileri, whilst Toledo may have the perfect Indian features to fulfil the role of the modern-day Inca emperor, his ability to produce concrete results has yet to be proven. President Toledo appeared tired but exhilarated after his first full day in office.

"This route, it wasn't easy. We are now here and we initiate a new task. Now we need to construct a different economic and social face for this country. Now we need to step forward to the future," he said.

Asked about his top priority, he underlined to the BBC that he will focus on alleviating the country's crushing poverty.

He said he had just taken the first step on this road by coming to Machu Picchu and showing the world the splendours of his nation, in the hope that more tourists will do the same.

See also:

05 Jun 01 | Americas
Toledo wins power in Peru
26 Jun 01 | Americas
How Montesinos was betrayed
26 Oct 00 | Americas
Hunt for Peru spy chief
14 Dec 00 | Americas
Missing spy chief 'has fled Peru'
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