Peruvian Cardinal Pleased With Elections

Responds to Accusations Regarding the Fujimori Regime

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LIMA, Peru, APR. 9, 2001 ( Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, archbishop of Lima, publicly expressed satisfaction over the «normality» of Sunday´s elections.

Alejandro Toledo, candidate of Perú Posible, and former President Alan Garcia, of the APRA Party, may likely be the candidates in a runoff election for the presidency, after the vote Sunday.

The National Office of Electoral Processes reported that the first official count gave Toledo 36.38% of the votes, and Garcia 25.70%. Lourdes Flores was in third place, with 24.01% of the vote. But with only 12% of the votes counted, Flores could expect surprises.

The second round must be held within 45 days, so that a president-elect can take office July 28. The winner will succeed provisional President Valentín Paniagua, who took over in November after Alberto Fujimori´s removal from office. Fujimori is now exiled in Japan.

Close to 14.9 million voters in this country of 27 million people participated in Sunday´s elections, which also included races for 120 congressional seats.

After confirming his satisfaction over the return to democratic normalcy in the country, Cardinal Cipriani lamented that, because of ignorance, some misinterpreted his pastoral service. He recalled that «this electoral process is the end of a long and painful journey,» and pointed out that, henceforth, the principal winner of the elections must be «tolerance and mutual respect.»

Asked by the broadcasting station «Radio Programs of Peru» about a campaign of opposition against him, the cardinal said, «There is a lack of respect for some institutions, among which is the Church.»

Later, in a discussion with the Lima-based Aci-Prensa news agency, Cardinal Cipriani referred to statements of writer Mario Vargas Llosa to the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, in which the latter accused the cardinal of complicity with the Fujimori regime.

Cardinal Cipriani explained that the writer´s long absence — almost a decade — is the reason why he is not familiar with «what happened in the country and, much less so, in the Church in Peru.»

The cardinal recalled that «from the very first moments, I was among the first in declaring publicly — as I told the newspaper El Comercio — that I was proud of not knowing Mr. Vladimiro Montesinos.» Montesinos was the chief of the security services who created the network of corruption that surrounded the Fujimori regime. He is now sought by the law.

The cardinal added: «I never saw him, or greeted him, or had anything to do with him that would allow Vargas Llosa to go down the route of suppositions that damage the just honor we all deserve.»

The cardinal also referred to his serious disagreements with the previous government on questions such as «demographic policy, sterilizations, the plan for anti-Catholic sexual education, which it attempted to impose.»

In addition, Cardinal Cipriani said that last July 28, «when President Fujimori attended the ´Te Deum´ Mass before beginning his third term, I spoke out against ´an enormous tutelary power that asphyxiates the life of the country and should not be tolerated because of the harm it does, especially to the judicial power.´»

The archbishop added: «This was the beginning of the collapse, and you can ask many people in Peru about this.»

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