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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Neighbours snub Fujimori
President Alberto Fujimori
Third term: The opposition says Fujimori rigged the vote
In what appears to be a calculated mass-snub, a fast-growing list of Latin American leaders are planning to stay away from next week's inauguration of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori.

Colombia's president is the latest in a long line that includes the leaders of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, all of whom have declined an invitation to the cermony in Lima.

Their decision follows widespread allegations that Mr Fujimori and his supporters used dirty tricks and intimidation to gain an unprecedented third five-year term in the May polls.

In Peru itself, oppposition politicians are planning protests against his re-election ahead of the inauguration ceremony, scheduled to take place next Friday.

Silence

Most Latin American presidents stayed silent following President Fujimori's victory over an opponent who boycotted the vote because of allegations of intimidation.

Many of the leaders now appear to be distancing themselves from the authoritarian Peruvian leader.

Colombian President Andres Pastrana
No show: Colombia's leader is the latest to say he will miss the inauguration
One after another, the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Cuba have excused themselves from Fujimori's swearing-in, many citing scheduling conflicts.

When Colombia's ambassador to Peru announced that President Andres Pastrana would not be coming too, she did not mention concerns about the conduct of the elections.

'Full agenda'

She said that President Pastrana's agenda was "exceedingly full" and that Colombian Vice-President Gustavo Bell would go in his place.

Mr Fujimori was first elected president in 1990 and then for a second term in 1995.

To his supporters, he is the man who saved Peru from the twin evils of terrorism and economic collapse.

Alejandro Toledo
Alejandro Toledo pulled out of the election
But his opponents view him as an authoritarian strongman who has ridden roughshod over the country's democratic institutions in order to preserve his hold on power.

Manipulation

They accuse him of manipulating the constitution to secure a third term in office.

International observers said Peru's presidential election failed to meet basic international standards for a fair and free vote.

Alejandro Toledo, Mr Fujimori's main challenger, dropped out of the second round protesting at what he said were government plans to rig the result.

Mr Toledo's Peru Posible party is leading three days of peaceful protests next week in an attempt to disrupt Mr Fujimori's swearing in.

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See also:

22 Jul 00 | Americas
Peru opposition prepares
28 Jun 00 | Americas
OAS mission in Peru
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
26 May 00 | Americas
Monitors pull out of Peru election
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