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The BBC's Claire Marshall in Lima
"Significant moves towards repairing Peru's damaged democracy have been made"
 real 28k

Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 02:26 GMT 03:26 UK
US backs Fujimori's strategy
Fujimori and OAS sec-gen  Cesar Gaviria
Alberto Fujimori (left): Looking for support
The United States has backed efforts by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori to hold early elections as a way out of the country's political crisis.

During a meeting in Washington, the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, told Mr Fujimori he had done the right thing by calling early elections following a bribery scandal involving his closest advisor, the intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

She urged Mr Fujimori and his government to continue working with the Organisation of American States (OAS) on a timetable for democratic reforms.

The crisis has led to fears of a military coup, but Mr Fujimori said the priority was to guarantee stability and democracy until voting takes place.

Mr Montesinos fled to Panama last weekend after he was filmed apparently trying to bribe a member of congress. The intelligence service he used to head is now being disbanded.

Peru's President, Alberto Fujimori, has pledged to guarantee stability and democracy in his country following the talks in Washington.

Mr Fujimori is on an unscheduled visit to the United States. As well as meeting Mrs Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, he has had talks with Cesar Gaviria, the secretary-general of the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Support for democracy

Correspondents say Mr Fujimori made his trip to try and assure US officials that he was in control of the situation back home.

Anti Fujimori protest outside OAS building in Washington
Protesters denounced Fujimori during his visit

The Peruvian president wants to oversee elections in his country after he announced he was stepping down in connection with a bribery scandal, involving his close ally and intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

Opposition parties and the government have endorsed President Fujimori's call for early elections in a move aimed at defusing the crisis.

Both sides have agreed that fresh elections must be held by 15 October.

Earlier, the Peruvian Congress voted to dismantle the country's powerful intelligence service following the scandal involving its chief.

Calls for change

Mr Montesinos fled to Panama last weekend after a video was aired on television, which apparently showed him bribing an opposition congressman to join the government.

The US has led calls from within the OAS for Mr Fujimori to implement democratic reforms, ever since he won a third five-year term in May in a vote condemned at home and abroad as rigged.

During his 10 years in office, the Peruvian president has been a key ally of Washington in the fight against drug-traffickers and guerrillas.

But the Americans also see him as an awkward partner because of his dictatorial-style leadership.

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See also:

27 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru halts spy investigation
23 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru to dismiss intelligence chief
18 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru opposition fears military coup
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