Army Rebels Latest Twist in Peru Crisis Band's Leader Demands Fujimori's Resignation

Article excerpt

LIMA, Peru -- An obscure army lieutenant colonel in southern Peru led a mutiny early yesterday, temporarily seizing a mining town and demanding the resignation of President Alberto Fujimori and the prosecution of top military officers and former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

There was no sign that other soldiers were rallying to the mutineers' side, or that the uprising posed an immediate threat to Fujimori, who on Saturday purged the military of four top officers with close ties to Montesinos, a former Fujimori ally turned political rival.

Fujimori met yesterday afternoon with his new armed forces chief, Gen. Walter Chacon, but had no comment and did not leave the heavily guarded presidential palace. In a statement, the army condemned the mutiny, which it described in somewhat muted terms as "a serious situation of indiscipline," and vowed to take "appropriate action to put an end to this activity and safeguard the social and political stability of the country."

Although the rebels were believed to be fleeing to a remote area in the Andes more than 13,000 feet above sea level and about 700 miles from the capital, the insurrection underscores the power of the military in Peruvian politics, which has been in turmoil since a controversial election July 28.

"You could see this coming. There are many in the rank and file who are unhappy," said retired Gen. Daniel Mora.

The mutiny's leader, Lt. Col. Ollanta Moises Humala Tasso, 36, said he was leading a "new Peruvian army" and demanded that Montesinos and top military leaders be investigated for ties to drug and arms traffickers. …

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