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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
OAS mission in Peru
Protest in Lima
The protesters mourned the "death of democracy"
A delegation from the Organisation of American States has arrived in Peru to look at ways of strengthening democracy after the controversial election in May.

The mission is led jointly by Canada's foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, and the OAS secretary-general, Cesar Gaviria.

The vote was won by President Alberto Fujimori after a boycott by his sole challenger, Alejandro Toledo, who alleged that the vote had been rigged.

An OAS observer mission pulled out of Peru before the second round of voting, saying it could not monitor a process that was neither free nor fair.

OAS programme

The OAS mission arrived in Lima late at night, and was driven to a city centre hotel amid tight security.

President Fujimori
Fujimori: Elections were "just, fair, transparent"
Earlier on Tuesday, the police used teargas to disperse several hundred protesters who had gathered outside the hotel to demonstrate in favour of new elections.

The mission is meeting government officials and also representatives of the opposition during its two-day visit.

The OAS says it has already highlighted a number of areas needing improvement, including the judicial system, the electoral authorities and freedom of the press.

The organisation has made it clear that it will not call for new elections, as Mr Toledo had urged it to.

Criticism

The election was criticised by the United States: President Clinton said it could jeopardise bilateral relations.

"No president emerging from such a flawed process can claim legitimacy," a State Department spokesman declared.

Peruvian anti-election graffiti
Lima is covered in anti-election graffiti
But OAS members such as Mexico and Brazil have lobbied against any dramatic action, arguing that the 34-country organisation should not intervene excessively in its member states' internal affairs.

In the event, the organisation stopped short of imposing sanctions on Peru, deciding instead to press President Fujimori to introduce reforms.

Mr Fujimori himself rejected all criticism, saying that the election was "just, fair, transparent".

But he has accelerated the creation of a "commission for the strengthening of democracy" made up of three cabinet ministers and headed by the prime minister, Alberto Bustamante.

However the BBC correspondent in Lima, James Reynolds, says that many in the opposition see the OAS mission as perhaps their best chance of securing change.

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See also:

30 May 00 | Americas
Fujimori insists poll 'fair'
29 May 00 | Americas
Opposition rejects Peru result
26 May 00 | Americas
Peru on the brink
26 Apr 00 | Americas
US threatens Peru with sanctions
07 Apr 00 | Americas
Fujimori's controversial career
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