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Monday, 20 November, 2000, 18:01 GMT
Peru press turns on Fujimori
Riot police confront demonstrations against Fujimori third term
Fujimori's disputed third term sparked widespread protests
Leading newspapers and commentators in Peru have roundly condemned the abrupt decision by President Alberto Fujimori to announce his resignation.

Reaction from abroad, however, has been more measured.

The writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who lost the election to Mr Fujimori in 1990, said it was "very pleasing to see that the dictatorship is no longer... that the huge majority of Peruvians have finally opened their eyes and rejected this corrupt experience".


A shameful act... totally lacking in ethics and personal integrity

El Comercio
"The ill-timed resignation of Fujimori as president provokes a feeling of profound indignation because it is the pernicious corollary of an authoritarian regime," the paper with the country's largest circulation, El Comercio, thundered.

In an editorial headlined "A shameful act", the paper accused Mr Fujimori of being "ignoble", saying his decision was "totally lacking in ethics and personal integrity at a time when the country finds itself facing one of the worse political crises in its history".

The paper recalled that the president had engineered a third term in office amid charges of constitutional irregularities and widespread popular unrest "with the understanding that he would at least ensure a minimum of stability".

Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa
Vargas Llosa: Former rival
"With the latest deplorable act, Fujimori has shown he is not up to the challenges facing the country, and even worse, he cares nothing about the future of Peru."

El Comercio called on politicians to act "calmly, and, with the country's interests at heart, by putting aside sectarianism and cheap party politicking".

'Degrading departure'

Another major daily, Expreso, spoke of the president's decision as "one of the most shameful, cowardly and humiliating acts in Peru's recent history".

Fujimori's disloyal defection takes place within the framework of a grave moral and political crisis

"Alberto Fujimori, from abroad, has virtually abandoned the role of president of the republic to which he was elected by the nation in May. Fujimori's disloyal defection takes place within the framework of a grave moral and political crisis," the paper said.

The Peruvian people would never be able to forgive his "degrading departure" and "the shameful act will weigh even more heavily when history comes to judge him". However, Expreso said the country "must have confidence that the constitution and laws will guarantee stability by finding a legitimate successor for the vacant post".

Major changes needed

Gestion, a top circulation daily, said Mr Fujimori's departure would help the transition to democracy as well as guaranteeing an impartial investigation into the case of the disgraced former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

"The turbulence of the past few weeks can be seen as the final stage of authoritarianism, hidden power, and the cult of personality," Gestion said. "A stage of building institutions is getting under way, the only way to ensure the country's integral development."

Peru only has one majority - that made up of those who live in poverty and extreme misery

However, it warned that the political system needed to change drastically to cater for the majority of Peruvians, who live in poverty.

"Peru only has one majority - that made up of those who live in poverty and extreme misery, an enormous sector of men and women whose basic needs are not catered for by the economic and institutional structures."

Gestion proposed a more decentralised political system which would give voice to the demands of the economically disenfranchised majority.

Foreign reaction

Abroad, the reaction to Mr Fujimori's announcement was more muted.

The head of the Organisation of American States, Cesar Gaviria, urged Peruvians to remain "calm" and "show their support for the democratic institutions and the constitutional order".

The Brazilian President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, promised to give Peru "all possible help, within Brazil's possibilities". He reportedly urged Peruvians "not to stray from the democratic path" and called for elections.

We expect the next general election to be carried out peacefully and smoothly

Japanese Foreign Ministry
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed the hope that "peace and democracy" prevail in Peru, "but above all, development, so that it can leave behind misery and dependency and forge ahead".

Spain's Foreign Minister, Josep Pique, said his country was "following the situation very closely". Spain hoped that by adhering to the constitution, there would be "a definitive opportunity to consolidate democracy in Peru and avoid any kind of civil confrontation".

Japan, where Mr Fujimori made the announcement, said it hoped his decision to resign would "be meaningful to the advancement of Peru's democratisation".

"We expect the next general election to be carried out peacefully and smoothly," Deputy Foreign Minister Yutaka Kawashima said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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20 Nov 00 | Americas
Fujimori keeps Peru guessing
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