IN THE NEWS #447 - Peru/Fujimori

By Paul Thompson

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

President Alberto Fujimori of Peru has called for new elections and said he will not be a candidate. Mr. Fujimori made the announcement after a top adviser created a political crisis.

It began with a videotape. The tape appeared to show the adviser offering money to an opposition member to join Mr. Fujimori's political party. The adviser was Vladimiro Montesinos, chief of Peru's National Intelligence Service. The president ordered the agency "deactivated."

Mr. Montesinos has strong links to the army. For days the powerful military said nothing about the situation. This silence worried people. Peru has a history of military overthrows. But on Thursday the armed forces expressed support for Mr. Fujimori.

Critics condemned Mr. Montesinos and demanded his arrest. They also demanded that President Fujimori immediately resign. But the president told a crowd of supporters that he will continue to govern until July twenty-eighth.

Mr. Fujimori also held a news conference. He told reporters that he had a surprise for them about what he is going to do in Two-Thousand-Six. The reporters took this to mean that he may again seek office.

They asked President Fujimori if the United States government had urged him to resign. He said there had been no such suggestion. The president did not answer questions about Mr. Montesinos.

Peru's justice minister said Mr. Montesinos would answer to the justice system. Opposition leaders say there must be a full investigation into recent government activities. And they demanded that Mr. Montesinos face trial.

Late in the week, anti-government demonstrators held noisy protests outside the presidential palace in Lima.

Political experts have both praised and criticized the administration of Alberto Fujimori over the past ten years. Most importantly, they say, his administration has ended the years of terrorism that harmed Peru. And he helped to lower the inflation that had severely damaged the economy.

Political experts say Mr. Fujimori has improved the economy by decreasing import taxes and easing government controls on business. Experts say increased investment and economic growth helped to strengthen democracy in Peru.

But critics say President Fujimori's plans for economic growth have now slowed. They also say his administration is not democratic. They say he has acted illegally in the past and has become a dictator.

Observers in Peru say just what President Fujimori will do in the coming weeks is not clear. They say he has survived more than one political crisis, and may do so again.

This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by Paul Thompson. This is Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English