Peru's president is indefinitely postponing plans to forcibly eradicate coca fields in the world's top cocaine-producing valley.

President Ollanta Humala's announcement in a televised interview Sunday night came a week after he fired his drug czar, Carmen Masias.

She had announced in January that a militarized eradication effort, half-funded by the United States, would begin this year in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantauro river valley.

Critics said that strategy would only help drug-funded Shining Path rebels based in the region turn its coca growers against authorities, with violent results. Coca is the remote valley's lone cash crop and growers have already mounted protests and threatened resistance.

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