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Peru Officials Blamed in Election

July 6, 2000

LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Congress has cleared high-ranking politicians of responsibility in the alleged conspiracy to forge about 1 million signatures to help register President Alberto Fujimori’s candidacy for a third term.

But the legislature, controlled by Fujimori supporters, agreed that seven participants, including four whistle-blowers who brought the case to light, were criminally liable.

Another two low-ranking city councilmen and Daniel Chuan, coordinator of Fujimori’s Peru 2000 Independent Front, were identified as ``intellectual authors″ of the scheme, according to a congressional commission report approved Wednesday in a 44-18 vote.

It was not immediately clear what penalty they could face.

Peru’s leading newspaper, El Comercio, broke the story in February, reporting that Fujimori’s re-election campaign had hired more than 400 people to systematically forge about 1 million qualifying signatures, copied from the 1998 municipal election voter rolls.

The congressional report did not refute the allegations, but cited insufficient evidence to prove any high-ranking ruling party politicians were responsible, including two congressmen who were directly implicated.

The scandal prompted one of four political parties that backed Fujimori’s successful re-election to pull from the race in a campaign fraught with irregularities and accusations of government fraud.

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