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The BBC's James Reynolds, in Lima
"The news has brought the opposition out in celebration"
 real 56k

The BBC's Claire Marshall, in Lima
"Various Congress members are concerned about a political vacuum"
 real 56k

Sunday, 17 September, 2000, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
Jubilation at Peru poll decision
Fujimori's opponents take to the streets
Fujimori's opponents celebrate outside government palace
The people of Peru have been celebrating in the streets after the surprise announcement by President Alberto Fujimori of new elections in which he will not stand.

Mr Fujimori said on Saturday that fresh elections would be held as soon as possible, after video-tape evidence linked his head of secret service with a bribery scandal.

The president gave no date for the poll, but the health minister Alejandro Aguinaga has said the election could take place in six or seven months time.

Alberto Fujimori
President Fujimori said he would not stand again

The United States has called for a peaceful and open transition to what it called "full democracy" in Peru. Washington was deeply critical of the circumstances surrounding Mr Fujimori's recent re-election.

"Since the elections, we have supported the process to encourage political reform. It is clear the people of Peru want democracy," White House spokesman Jake Siewert said.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Lima, celebrating what they say is the end of dictatorship in the country.

There were shouts of "we are free now", as people marched down the streets waving flags. Cars, taxis and buses joined the celebration by honking their horns in unison.

Bribery scandal

Mr Fujimori, who has been in power since 1990, was elected to a third term in May amid widespread allegations of fraud.

In his speech he said his resignation was necessary because of the bribery allegations involving his head of security, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Video showing Peru's spy chief
The spy chief appears to be handing over cash

Mr Montesinos, long considered the power behind the government, was seen on video tape, apparently handing over $15,000 to Luis Alberto Kouri, who recently defected from the opposition to the governing party.

A series of opposition defections since May has restored the president's majority in congress.

Mr Kouri has denied accepting the bribe.

Demonstrators have called for the arrest of Mr Montesinos.

In a televised address Mr Fujimori also announced that he would "deactivate" the intelligence service.

Transitional government

Former presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo called for a transitional government to be formed immediately, and for the opposition to rally around a single candidate.

Luis Alberto Kouri
Not me: Kouri denies that he took a bribe

"The political opposition in Peru should not be thinking about a witch hunt. We have to think about a government of national unity and preparing an economic reactivation program more than political confrontation," Mr Toledo said.

He says he plans to run for president again.

Mr Toledo pulled out of the May presidential runoff after alleging that Mr Fujimori planned to rig the results.

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See also:

17 Sep 00 | Americas
Shock election call in Peru
07 Apr 00 | Americas
Fujimori's controversial career
17 Sep 00 | Americas
OAS demands action on Peru scandal
15 Sep 00 | Media reports
Cash, lies and videotape shock Peru
29 Jul 00 | Americas
Peru's bubbling unrest
21 Jul 00 | Americas
Neighbours snub Fujimori
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