Congress Swears in Paniagua As Interim Peru President

Reuters -- 22 November 2000

LIMA - Peru's Congress leader Valentin Paniagua was sworn in as the country's interim president on Wednesday, replacing disgraced Alberto Fujimori (news - web sites) after the legislature sacked him and declared him ``morally unfit.''

Paniagua, seen as a moderate member of the opposition during Fujimori's rule, took the oath of interim president before a packed chamber. He has a mandate to lead Peru into early elections in April after a decade of Fujimori's hardline rule in the Andean nation.

He will hand over the presidency to the winner of the general elections on July 28.

Paniagua is a 64-year-old constitutional lawyer expected to draw consensus support in this polarized country ahead of the elections -- called four years early after Fujimori decided to quit office in the face of an escalating corruption scandal.

Fujimori, who quit on Monday, was never able to recover from a nine-week political crisis centered on his fugitive former spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. Both Fujimori's vice presidents have also resigned. Fujimori is in Japan and has not said when he will return.