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Sunday, 17 September, 2000, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Shock election call in Peru
Embattled Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has called surprise new elections and has indicated that he plans to step down, saying he will not seek re-election.
Mr Fujimori, who has been in power since 1990, was elected to a third term in May amid widespread allegations of fraud.
His decision to call elections as soon as possible comes shortly after the release of a videotape which allegedly shows his security chief Vladimiro Montesinos trying to bribe a member of the opposition.
A series of opposition defections since May have restored the president's majority in congress.
In a televised address Mr Fujimori also decided to "deactivate" the intelligence service.
Mr Toledo pulled out of the May presidential runoff after alleging that Mr Fujimori planned to rig the results.
Correspondents say the announcement has stunned the country, prompting spontaneous scenes of celebration.
People poured onto the streets shouting freedom and calling the decision a great victory for democracy.
Our correspondent Claire Marshall said the mood in the capital, Lima, was one of jubilation, with hundreds of people emptying out from bars and cafes to carry banners, beat drums and wave flags.
Leading a crowd of about 200 down one of Lima's main streets, Cezar Ramiro, from one of the main pro-democracy movements, said: "We are very happy because we have been asking him to go since April, and now he's gone".
Another opposition supporter, Mani Dammat, said that the president's surprise announcement was finally the end of a 10-year-long fight for liberty.
Opposition demands for new elections have increased since the scandal about the video broke.
An Organisation of American States statement on Saturday said the accusations were "of the utmost seriousness and require rapid, radical action from the government".
The United States also expressed its concern, and there were demonstrations in the Peruvian capital, Lima, calling for Mr Montesinos' arrest.
The opposition saw the video as proof that Mr Fujimori used bribes to win opposition party defectors over to his side after the April elections, which left his party with fewer than half the seats in Congress.
17 Sep 00 | Americas
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