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Fujimori may be on his way out, but is his adviser?

Tuesday, Peru's leader dropped another bombshell: He won't budge any time soon. His closest ally may emerge scot-free from a scandal, but Fuji could be politically doomed.

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Embattled Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori may be on his way out following an explosive bribery scandal that forced the South American leader to call new elections, but his controversial adviser and intelligence chief implicated in the scandal appears to be going nowhere, at least for now.

Despite the constant vigil of protesters and attempts by a group of opposition Congress members to enter the National Intelligence Service headquarters, no one knows the whereabouts of intelligence head Vladimiro Montesinos, nicknamed "Peru's Rasputin" and considered by many experts to be the real power behind Mr. Fujimori's regime. When a videotape was broadcast last week of Mr. Montesinos bribing an opposition politician to switch to Fujimori's camp in this spring's questionably legitimate elections, the president had little choice but to resign.

Montesinos and his military backers have remained silent so far, but were said to be negotiating a behind-the-scenes solution with the president, who made a visit to Army headquarters in the wee hours Tuesday. Many in the South American nation had feared a coup was imminent.

But Fujimori broke the silence on Tuesday night, when he climbed atop a fence surrounding the government palace to greet thousands of supporters, assuring the country that he remains in charge. He even hinted he might run again in 2006 -adding more confusion to just how Fujimori's announcement that he was stepping down would be implemented.

"There is no power vacuum. [My ministers and I] will continue working until the last day," Fujimori told reporters.

Fujimori rejected the opposition's calls for a transition government and said he will remain at the presidential helm for the next year. Elections are tentatively slated for March, with the transfer of power set for July 28.

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