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Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 05:37 GMT 06:37 UK
Peru's bubbling unrest
Protest outside Presidential Palace in Lima
The protests are likely to get worse
By Claire Marshall in Lima

Peru is in a state of political crisis, with Mr Fujimori presiding over a government which about half the 25 million population sees as illegitimate.

Protester sits in front of riot police
Protesters have made gas masks
Political opinion in the country is polarised between anti-Fujimori activists, and pro-government supporters, and any predictions for the future of Peru vary widely.

The one certainty is that the bubbling unrest is not going to disappear after the inauguration ceremony.

This is the 11th year in a row that half of the population has been living under the poverty line, and two thirds of people of working age are either unemployed, or under-employed. Peru is a country where you find qualified engineers and teachers having to drive taxis to make a living.

President Alberto Fujimori
Mr Fujimori has vowed to maintain law and order
The leader of the opposition and former presidential candidate, Alejandro Toledo, initially saw mass demonstrations as a way of trying to prevent Mr Fujimori from starting his constitutionally dubious third term in office.

However, stating that "dictators do not leave voluntarily", he has now formed a more long-term objective with the aim of forcing the president out of office within the year.

'Weak' opposition

A number of proposals for improving democracy in Peru over the next few years have been put forward by the Organisation of American States.

They include strengthening the independence of the judiciary; ensuring freedom of the press, and restructuring the electoral process.

Alejandro Toledo
Alejandro Toledo wants a new president within a year
President Fujimori has said he will co-operate with the organisation in implementing their recommendations. But some doubt his commitment to the process, particularly in the light of his refusal to allow international human rights monitors, along with the Peruvian independent news channel, Canal N, to use helicopters to cover the demonstrations.

Despite widespread criticism of the last elections, condemned as fraudulent by international observers, the current obstacle to change appears to be the lack of any credible alternative to the present administration.

According to Francisco Sagasti, head of the pro-democracy and development think tank Agenda Peru, the current opposition is just a fairly disorganised "anti-Fujimori ghetto", with no account taken of the current government's positive policies.

Sending a message to all the discontented people voicing their opposition by marching, he said: "It's a challenge for all of us to transform the opposition and create a proper agenda for reform."

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See also:

27 Jul 00 | Americas
Peru's Fujimori vows to keep control
21 Jul 00 | Americas
Neighbours snub Fujimori
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
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