U.S. Urges `Full Democracy' in Peru


Sunday, September 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (AP) — The United States, which questioned the legitimacy of Peru President Alberto Fujimori's re-election this year, on Sunday urged a peaceful and open move to ``full democracy'' after his surprise decision to call new elections.

Fujimori, reeling from a bribery scandal involving his closest adviser, announced the new vote Saturday and said he will not be a candidate.

White House spokesman Jake Siewert, traveling in Pennsylvania with President Clinton, pointed out that the United States has been encouraging political reform since the elections in May.

In light of Fujimori's decision, Siewert said, ``We hope that all elements in Peru will work a peaceful and transparent process to achieve full democracy.''

After the May elections' first round, Clinton requested a delay in the runoff because of ``well-documented concerns'' from international monitors that Fujimori was cheating. Clinton said democracy depends on ``free, fair and open elections.''

``Without them, our relationship with Peru inevitably will be affected,'' Clinton said at the time.

Fujimori ignored Clinton's plea, and the principal challenger, economist Alejandro Toledo, boycotted the runoff. After Fujimoro's re-election, the State Department said the ``flawed process'' made it impossible for him to ``claim legitimacy.''

By late July, when Fujimori was sworn in, the Clinton administration had not punished him but did join most of the hemispheric democracies in boycotting his inaugural and asking that Peru do a better job of staging democratic elections the next time.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also avoided Peru when she toured Latin America in August.