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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
US threatens Peru with sanctions
Fujimori
Mr Fujimori is under pressure from the US to ensure fair elections
By Jeff Phillips in Washington

President Clinton has signed into law a congressional resolution allowing him to apply sanctions on Peru, should there be any evidence of fraud in the second round of presidential elections next month or early in June.

In the last round on 9 April, the incumbent President, Alberto Fujimori, won just under 50% of the vote, which means there must be a second round against his strongest rival, Alejandro Toledo.

There has been widespread criticism of the conduct of the first round, particularly of Mr Toledo's lack of access to the broadcast media and of the workings of the official national electoral office.

President Clinton's signing of this resolution puts the Peruvian government on notice that Washington is determined that this election should be as open and fair as possible.

Possible sanctions

The resolution, which was backed by both houses of Congress, gives the president discretion to apply economic, political or military sanctions if the run-off election is not free and fair.

Even before the result of the first round was announced, the State Department had warned that it would have serious questions if Mr Fujimori was awarded more than 50% of the vote.


Toledo
Mr Toledo is gaining in popularity
The United States government made its concerns felt when the Peruvian national electoral office took four days to announce the result of the first round.

Some members of the electoral commission were implicated in a scheme to falsify the one million signatures required to endorse Mr Fujimori's candidature.

Mr Fujimori was able to persuade the Congress to override the constitutional ban on the incumbent president running for a third term of office.

Since the first round, support for Mr Toledo, who secured just over 40% of the vote, appears to have grown.

He now represents the biggest threat to Mr Fujimori since he was elected in 1990.

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See also:

09 Apr 00 | Americas
Peru poll sparks angry protests
08 Apr 00 | Americas
Test for Peruvian democracy
07 Apr 00 | Americas
Fujimori's controversial career
06 Apr 00 | Americas
Fraud claims mar Peru campaign
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