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Peru Cabinet Installed; Generals Fired

November 26, 2000|From Associated Press

LIMA, Peru — Peru's interim president on Saturday took a step toward healing the country's battered democracy in the wake of President Alberto Fujimori's ouster by installing a 15-member Cabinet that within hours ordered a shake-up in the military.

Valentin Paniagua and his new ministers aim to root out corruption in the army, police, judiciary and other government institutions before special elections are held April 8. A new president is to be inaugurated in July.

The mood was festive as Paniagua administered the oaths to his 15-member Cabinet in the government palace's gilded Gold Hall to cheers and applause.

Hours later, newly appointed Defense Minister Walter Ledesma announced that 12 army generals who had been scheduled for mandatory retirement Dec. 31 would be forced from the service immediately. All of the generals were military academy classmates of Fujimori's fugitive ex-spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

Among the group was the army chief, Gen. Walter Chacon.

Ledesma said Gen. Carlos Tafur, who had been in line to take over the command of the army, but was forced into retirement by Fujimori in September, would be reinstated.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, who will serve as both Cabinet chief and foreign minister, led the Cabinet's list of political figures known for their honesty and democratic credentials.

Retired Police Gen. Antonio Ketin Vidal, who headed police intelligence during the height of Peru's guerrilla violence in the 1990s, was appointed interior minister.

Economist Javier Silva Ruete was named economy minister, a post he held in the late 1970s when he spearheaded a program that ended a severe economic crisis brought on by mismanagement by the military leaders who ran Peru from 1968 to 1980.

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