Peru's leader is a lap dog of the US, claims Chavez

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The President-elect of Peru is a "lap dog" of Washington, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said in his latest salvo of insults directed at Alan Garcia. Mr Chavez also suggested that Mr Garcia's nationalist rival, Ollanta Humala, was the true winner of Peru's 4 June presidential runoff.

Peru's Foreign Ministry issued a statement over the weekend condemning Mr Chavez's comments.

The Venezuelan leader said that Mr Garcia's victory over Mr Humala by a 53-47 per cent margin was "dubious".

"I was left with many doubts. I think Ollanta won the election," Mr Chavez said, adding Garcia's victory might have been the result of fraud at voting stations during the tabulation of ballots on tally sheets.

Mr Garcia, who takes office on 28 July, responded by telling reporters: "You must leave him [Mr Chavez] to his psychological problems."

The Foreign Ministry statement noted that the election was deemed free and fair by election monitors from the European Union and the Organisation of American States and that the OAS general assembly congratulated Peru for the transparency of the vote, "respecting popular will, the constitution and the law".

Mr Chavez, who openly endorsed Mr Humala, exchanged a barrage of insults with Mr Garcia during Peru's election campaign, igniting a diplomatic crisis between the nations, and the recall of their respective ambassadors.

Peru maintained that Mr Chavez is interfering in Peru's internal affairs, while the Venezuelan leader accused Mr Garcia of trying to turn other Latin American leaders against him.