Peru’s Fujimori mourns fraud as elections hang on the balance sheet

The result of Peru’s presidential election hangs in the balance after right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori accused his opponent’s party of fraud, demanding that 200,000 votes be declared null and 300,000 others to be scrutinized.

If his request is accepted, the election will probably be in his favor, snatching the victory from the hands of his left-wing rival Pedro Castillo. Which, in turn, would almost certainly lead to widespread street demonstrations by his supporters.

At a press conference Wednesday night, Fujimori and his lawyers said they had found evidence of falsified signatures on more than 500 ballot papers along with a slew of other irregularities, blaming Castillo’s party, Free Peru.

“There are still 500,000 votes at stake here, half a million votes nationwide, and we think it’s critical that they be analyzed before the final count,” Fujimori said. “There is clear evidence of the systematic intention on the part of Free Peru to subvert the popular will.”

Miguel Torres, Fujimori’s lawyer, said his People’s Force party “will not throw in the towel” and “will fight until the final vote.” “Many Peruvians feel that their votes have been stolen, and we cannot allow that,” he said.

The charges, which go to Peru’s electoral tribunal, come at a time when authorities have finished counting since last Sunday’s elections, which passed peacefully and without major incident. The results show Castillo won with 50.2 percent to Fujimori’s 49.8, a difference of just 72,000 votes. The only accounts left to count are a few that are already in question.

Fujimori’s allegations of fraud will escalate tensions beyond what he already was bitter countryside between rivals from the opposite ends of the political spectrum. Castillo is a former left-wing primary school teacher from a poor rural community in the northern Andes, while Fujimori, who is making his third bid for the presidency, is from the Lima political establishment, the daughter of the former authoritarian leader. of the village Alberto Fujimori.

Castillo wants to uphold Peru’s economic model, saying it has failed the poor, while Fujimori defends it largely.

Financial markets are eagerly awaiting the final result. Currency, the sun, plus Peruvian stocks and bonds have all down in the last few weeks in anticipation of a Castillo victory, with some wealthy Peruvians fighting to move their money out of the country.

Fujimori supporters gather in Lima Wednesday © REUTERS

By the time the initial results have arrived on Sunday evening, supporters of both candidates took to the streets to celebrate what they declared victory while accusing their opponents of trying to steal the vote. There was some minor squabbling in the capital, Lima. Since then, however, Castillo and Fujimori have appealed for calm and have ordered their respective camps to wait patiently for the final result.

Just minutes from Fujimori’s press conference Wednesday, Castillo posted another placid message to his supporters.

“We are not talking about the provocations of those who want to see this country in chaos,” he said he wrote on Twitter.

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