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Sunday, 7 May, 2000, 01:08 GMT 02:08 UK
Peru acts to halt poll bias
President Alberto Fujimori
Mr Fujimori is under pressure to ensure fair elections
Peru's main election body has committed itself to giving incumbent President Alberto Fujimori and opposition candidate Alejandro Toledo free and equal air time on national television and radio.

The move follows complaints by international election observers that there were serious shortcomings in the electoral process because of media bias against Mr Toledo.

Mr Fujimori and Mr Toledo face a second round of voting on 28 May to choose a new president.

In the first round of voting last month, Mr Fujimori narrowly failed to secure outright victory, amid widespread allegations of fraud.

Equal access



Alejandro Toledo
Polls cannot separate Mr Toledo and the incubent president
The National Electoral Office said it had purchased 30 minutes of air-time daily on the main national television channel and two radio stations to be distributed equally between Mr Fujimori and Mr Toledo.

Both candidates will also be able to publish their manifesto once in the state-owned El Peruano newspaper.

Polls show Mr Fujimori and Mr Toledo, an economist, in a dead heat in the runoff race.

International standards

On Friday a joint mission from the Carter Centre and the National Democratic Institute in the United States said the electoral process in Peru continued to fall well short of international standards.

They called for equal media coverage of both candidates and urged the electoral authorities to allow monitoring of the vote count.

The Carter Centre said action was needed to restore confidence in the election and ensure "minimum international standards for democratic elections."

A recent poll found that 54% of those surveyed thought there had been fraud in the first-round election in which Mr Fujimori officially took 49.87% of the vote to Mr Toledo's 40.24%.

The United States has threatened Peru with economic and diplomatic sanctions if election conditions do not improve.

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See also:

26 Apr 00 | Americas
US threatens Peru with sanctions
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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