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Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 16:00 GMT
Q & A: What next for Peru?
The opposition-backed speaker of congress, 64-year-old Valentin Paniagua, has been sworn in as interim president until elections scheduled for next April. He is a moderate constitutional lawyer, widely seen as a democrat skilled at building consensus.

Peru's political life is now expected to unfold as follows:

  • Early 2001 - candidates for April presidential election formally announce they are running
  • 8 April - presidential and congressional elections
  • 28 July - Peru's interim president hands over power to the newly-elected president for a five-year term


    What was Fujimori's record?

    In the 1990s Mr Fujimori rescued Peru from the chaos of hyperinflation and virtually wiped out two guerrilla movements that made Peru one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

    His free-market economic reforms brought in unprecedented levels of foreign investment.

    But his autocratic style of government was widely criticised, not least by his former wife, Susana Higuchi, now an opposition Congresswoman. His government was seen as corrupt and manipulative.

    Perhaps most critically, he failed to relieve the grinding poverty of most Peruvians.

    Are Peruvians glad to see Fujimori go?

    Alberto Fujimori's decision in 1992 to suspend the widely discredited congress and judiciary earned him extraordinary levels of support from an electorate disillusioned with what they considered a thoroughly corrupt and unrepresentative white, urban elite.

    His successes against terrorism and inflation meant his popular support remained high, at around 40%, even towards the end. But his failure to relieve poverty and corruption allegations helped form a substantial opposition.

    His legacy, like that of General Pinochet in neighbouring Chile, is likely to be divisive.

    Leading newspapers and commentators in Peru roundly condemned Mr Fujimori's abrupt resignation. They said he was leaving the country in a crisis that he had failed to stand up to.

    Why does Peru matter?

    As one of the world's largest growers of the coca plant, Peru has been a key factor in the international cocaine trade, although Mr Fujimori said illegal production declined substantially during his years in power.

    Peru is also a significant producer of copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber and fish.

    For anthropologists and tourists, the remains of its Inca civilisation, particularly the 'hidden city' of Machu Picchu, are of major importance.

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