By Marco Aquino
LIMA (Reuters) – Former authoritarian leader Alberto Fujimori sought forgiveness from Peruvians “from the bottom of my heart” on Tuesday for shortcomings during his rule, and thanked President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski for granting him a Christmas pardon.
In a video on Facebook, Fujimori, 79, vowed that as a free man, he would support Kuczynski’s call for reconciliation, hinting that he would not return to politics.
“I’m aware the results of my government were well received by some, but I acknowledge I also disappointed other compatriots,” the ailing Fujimori said, reading from notes while connected to tubes in a hospital bed. “And to them, I ask for forgiveness from the bottom of my heart.”
The remarks were Fujimori’s first explicit apology to the Andean nation that he governed with an iron fist from 1990-2000.
They came after two days of unrest as protesters slammed the pardon as an insult to victims and part of a political deal to help Kuczynski survive a scandal.
The pardon cleared Fujimori’s convictions for graft and human rights crimes during his leadership of the rightwing government.
Late on Monday, Kuczynski, a 79-year-old former Wall Street banker, appealed to Peruvians opposed to the pardon to “turn the page” and defended his decision as justified clemency for a sick man whose government helped the country progress.
“I cannot keep from expressing my profound gratitude for the complex step that the president took, which commits me in this new stage of my life to decidedly support his call for reconciliation,” Fujimori said.
(Writing and additional reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Bernadette Baum)