Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Peru's president stokes poll row

Peruvian President Alan Garcia
Alan Garcia, a former leftist himself, was elected a second time in 2006

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has stirred controversy after telling foreign investors he will work to stop a leftist triumph in the 2011 election.

"The president can't pick his successor, but can prevent the next president from being someone he doesn't want," Mr Garcia said.

Under Peruvian law, he is barred from standing for a second consecutive term.

Mr Garcia later tried to clarify his remarks, saying Peru was a democracy and nobody could hand-pick a candidate.

He said he had not said he would try to intervene in the elections but rather that the success of his policies would convince voters to elect a candidate who favoured free trade.

"Peru is a democracy and obviously if the president and the government work well and there are results...the country will vote for continuity in policies," Mr Garcia said.

But former presidential candidate and nationalist opposition leader Ollanta Humala said he found Mr Garcia's comments offensive.

"Alan Garcia's words are a threat against democracy and the rule of law," Mr Humala said.

"He is a dictator if he thinks he can impose the next president of Peru."

Mr Humala scared financial markets when he almost won the 2006 election.

The BBC's Dan Collyns in Lima says in contrast to several other leaders in Latin America, President Garcia believes private investment, both local and foreign, is the only way to alleviate poverty in his country.

In his speech to Latin American business leaders on Tuesday, Mr Garcia said Peru could count on another 10 years of political stability.

Peru until recently had benefited from the commodities boom but economic growth if forecast to slow in 2009, after rapid growth of around 7.5% over the past four years.

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