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The BBC's Alice Grahame
"Hundreds gather on the streets of Lima"
 real 56k

Saturday, 23 September, 2000, 05:24 GMT 06:24 UK
Peru to dismiss intelligence chief
Protest in Lima
Opposition supporters remain sceptical
The Peruvian Government has agreed to dismiss the scandal-hit intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

A video of Mr Montesinos allegedly bribing an opposition congressman sparked a political crisis that led to President Alberto Fujimori's recent announcement that he would be stepping down.

Since then, President Fujimori's political opponents have been demanding the dismissal of Mr Montesinos, who is believed to wield a large degree of influence in the Peruvian Government.

Vladimiro Montesinos
Montesinos: Sacked in absentia
The government sent a bill to congress which would disband the intelligence services and ban Mr Montesinos from holding public office.

The legislation could take effect within days, as the government holds a majority in congress.

Humiliation

The legislation, if approved, would represent public humiliation for Mr Montesinos, who has made a point of staying out of the public spotlight and who wields powerful influence in the Peruvian armed forces.

The resolution to distance the government from Mr Montesinos, was drawn up in a meeting of government and opposition representatives, convened by the Organisation of American States.

Alberto Fujimori
Fujimori: Has promised early elections
The OAS representative in Peru, Eduardo Latorre, announced that from 1100 (1600 GMT) on Monday, Mr Montesinos will no longer hold any form of government office.

Discussions are to resume on Monday on the holding of early elections, which were announced last week by President Fujimori in a televised address.

Opposition sceptical

Monday's meeting will also address the deactivation of the national intelligence service, another promise made by the president last week.

Our correspondent in Lima says it is unclear whether the announcement of Mr Montesinos's dismissal will be enough to satisfy the opposition.

Many opposition supporters are calling for the former intelligence chief's arrest, and demanding proof that Mr Fujimori will keep to his promise of early elections.

Other analysts say that President Fujimori and Mr Montesinos are too closely linked for the current government to survive until new elections are called.

Mr Montesinos himself has not been seen in public since President Fujimori's declaration, and speculation over his whereabouts continues.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | Americas
US seeks 'real democracy' in Peru
20 Sep 00 | Americas
Fujimori defends spy chief
20 Sep 00 | Media reports
Peru press takes sides
18 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru opposition fears military coup
17 Sep 00 | Americas
Jubilation at Peru poll decision
17 Sep 00 | Americas
OAS demands action on Peru scandal
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