Fujimori Coalition Wins Peruvian Election

PRESIDENT Alberto Fujimori won a mandate in congressional elections Sunday for his hard line against Maoist guerrillas and his bid to restructure Peru's democracy.

But strong opposition support showed Peruvians' concerns about giving the president absolute power to govern in a country with a fragile democracy and weak institutions, political leaders, businessmen, and analysts say.

And 1 in 5 voters turned in a blank ballot in apparent protest.

Early results showed that a coalition of parties backed by Mr. Fujimori won 43 of the 80 seats in the new Congress. But the CPI polling agency said the coalition would fall just short of a majority.

The president, who has been riding a wave of popular support since the capture of several top rebel leaders in September, said the new Congress would be fully autonomous and said his coalition would work with the opposition.

Peru's two largest political parties abstained, saying their participation would legitimize Fujimori's suspension of constitutional rule.

The elections came eight months after Fujimori dissolved Congress and reorganized the judiciary, saying they were blocking economic reforms and his efforts to crush leftist guerrillas.

Hector Gross Espiell, head of an Organization of American States mission to Peru, said he had seen a normal voting process. If the OAS gives full backing to the vote, Peru could be welcomed back into the international financial community.

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