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Tuesday, 9 May, 2000, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Fujimori labelled 'dictator'
Mario Vargas Llosa
Mr Vargas Llosa is promoting his new book
Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa has attacked President Alberto Fujimori, accusing him of being a dictator who uses the secret service to cling to power.

Mr Vargas Llosa, who lost to Mr Fujimori in presidential elections in 1990, was speaking in Lima on a rare visit to his homeland - his first for three years.

We can put an end to these eight years of authoritarian rule

Mario Vargas Llosa
He said he hoped Mr Fujimori would be defeated in a presidential run-off later this month, and gave his backing to opposition candidate Alejandro Toledo, who finished a close second in the first round.

"I feel a moral need to attack dictatorships and combat them, and even more so if they exist in my own country," Mr Vargas Llosa told reporters on Monday, on the latest leg of a regional tour to promote his new book entitled 'The Goat's Party'.

"Toledo represents an alternative for democracy but I also think he's a magnificent candidate."

The 64-year-old author, who now lives in London, said Mr Fujimori had governed Peru as a dictator behind a democratic facade since dissolving Congress and the courts in 1992 with the help of the military.

Mr Fujimori, he said, was a modern-day version of Dominican strongman Rafael Leonidas Trujillo - the subject of the author's latest novel.

He accused him of using extortion and surveillance, rather than Mr Trujillo's murderous methods, to silence his critics and maintain control over the country.

Vote fraud allegations

Mr Vargas Llosa's defeat in 1990 set up a decade in power for his opponent that would be extended for another five years if Mr Fujimori wins re-election on 28 May.

Alberto Fujimori
Polls cannot separate Mr Fujimori and his opponent
The incumbent fell a fraction short of outright victory in April's first round, after Mr Toledo produced a late surge from a field of eight opposition candidates.

Mr Vargas Llosa said Mr Fujimori had tried to rig the vote count, but was frustrated by international pressure and massive street protests on the night of the election.

Last week, international election observers warned that conditions were still lacking for a free and fair second round. Allegations of vote-rigging have been dismissed by Mr Fujimori.

Latest opinion polls show him running neck and neck with his opponent.

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See also:

07 May 00 | Americas
Peru acts to halt poll bias
10 Apr 00 | Americas
Peru poll sparks angry protests
08 Apr 00 | Americas
Test for Peruvian democracy
07 Apr 00 | Americas
Fujimori's controversial career
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