Outsider President Seeks Allies
PERU's new president, Alberto Fujimori, faces the difficult task of putting together a stable government after winning a spectacular victory in a runoff election Sunday. Mr. Fujimori has become Peru's president only six months after entering active politics as an independent. His victory has underlined his country's deep disenchantment with traditional politicians. But he now has to seek allies to govern: his Cambio 90 (Change 90) movement has only about a third of the seats in Peru's Congress.Skip to next paragraph
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Fujimori made an immediate call for other parties to take part in a national unity government to tackle Peru's deep-rooted problems of economic instability and political violence.
``All the incidents of the electoral campaign are now in the past, and Peru must look to the future,'' he said Sunday.
Unofficial projections of the results give Fujimori, a mathematician and agronomist who has never before held political office, about 60 percent of the vote. That compares with less than 40 percent for Mario Vargas Llosa, the novelist candidate of the right-of-center Democratic Front.
The margin of Fujimori's victory came as a surprise. Opinion polls had indicated a closer result. But it was clear that a polarized campaign, in which Fujimori was the target of racial slurs, had left many of his voters scared to voice their support openly.
The election also divided Peru along class and race lines. Fujimori owed his victory in part to popular rejection of Mr. Vargas Llosa's radical free-market economic program that aimed to cut Peru's 2,000 percent inflation rate to 10 percent within a year and envisaged privatizing all state-owned companies. Fujimori criticized that as shock treatment.
``The shock would be against the most needy people - we've got little industry here, and the shock would kill it off,'' says Alberto Salazar, who sells shoes on the sidewalk in downtown Lima, said before casting his vote for Fujimori at a school in a shanty town suburb.
During the campaign Fujimori was vague about policies, but said he would seek to cut inflation while simultaneously reactivating Peru's economy through a national agreement he calls a ``social development pact.''
His ad hoc team of advisers has proposed damping inflationary expectations by creating a new currency pegged to the dollar. They also say that Peru will seek to start a new relationship with the International Monetary Fund after years of confrontation with it and other international financial institutions by President Alan Garc'ia P'erez, who steps down July 28.
Fujimori says he will seek specific agreements on individual policies rather than form a coalition government. But many analysts believe that he will now seek an accord with sections of the Democratic Front, and may be forced to implement some of its policies. ``All our policy proposals are open to analysis and discussion,'' he says.
``A pact between Fujimori and the Democratic Front would dampen down some of the rumors and tensions in the armed forces,'' a political adviser to the military says. He added that the other alternative - an alliance with Mr. Garc'ia's populist American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) party and with left-wing parties - would reduce the chances of getting foreign aid.
The other main problem facing the new government is the 10-year insurgency by the Maoist guerrilla movement Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) that has cost almost 17,000 lives. Fujimori polled heavily in guerrilla-affected areas of the central Andes under armed forces control. He has said he wants to combine military repression with a greater emphasis on development projects in these areas.
Fujimori also suggests that the armed forces should be put to work building roads in Peru's Upper Huallaga Valley, the source of half the world's coca - the raw material for cocaine. He says this would encourage farmers there to grow legal crops.
But, Fujimori warned, ``the problem of the drug trade is international rather than Peruvian.'' Fujimori told the New York Times Monday he would travel to the US this month to seek aid that emphasizes crop substitution, over military repression - though he says military involvement is necessary.
While he says he wants foreign help to fight both cocaine traffickers and the guerrillas, Fujimori has not yet said whether he would sign a $36 million agreement under which the United States would train and equip six battalions of Peruvian troops in the Upper Huallaga valley.