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Castillo in the lead, Fujimori who risks prison asks for a recount

Suspense in Peru where the official results of the presidential election are still pending. With a short lead of less than 70,000 votes, Pedro Castillo should win. But her rival, who risks prison, asks for a new count.

The official results of the presidential election in Peru, in which the left-wing candidate Pedro Castillo considers himself the winner, could be delayed for several days, while his right-wing rival, Keiko Fujimori, is threatened with return to prison.

The trade unionist teacher Pedro Castillo was credited on the evening of June 10 with 50.20% of the vote and his liberal right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori with 49.80%, a very narrow gap of 69,546 votes, according to the National Office for Electoral Processes (ONPE) Peruvian who counted 100% of the ballots. Pedro Castillo has already received congratulations from several neighboring leaders: Argentina, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

But Keiko Fujimori, who was running for the supreme mandate for the third time, contested the results and demanded on June 9 the invalidation of some 200,000 ballots from 802 polling stations before the National Electoral Jury (JNE). She had denounced two days earlier “irregularities”, “signs of fraud” and “a clear intention to sabotage the will of the people”. Accusations made when the bulletins from the countryside – mostly favorable to Castillo – reversed the trend that initially gave her a winner.

Defeat could put Keiko Fujimori in jail for 30 years

In addition to a probable third defeat, Keiko Fujimori is playing big in this election. A defeat would in fact deprive her of presidential immunity at a time when new threats of imprisonment weigh on her. In early March, 30 years in prison were required against her by the prosecution and 22 years against her husband Mark Vito Villanella, as part of the investigation into the Odebrecht scandal, named after the Brazilian construction giant who admitted to having paid bribes to many Latin American leaders. June 10, the prosecutor in charge of the case, José Domingo Pérez, demanded that the conditional freedom enjoyed by the candidate since May 2020 be “revoked” because he has “notorious” and “public” evidence which attests that she would be in contact with a witness that she did not have the right to approach within the framework of this conditional release. Keiko Fujimori has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention in this case for illicit financing of his past presidential campaigns. “There is no fear that this will materialize [demande de] preventive prison ”, however assured the person concerned, close to the business community and the great tenors of the Peruvian bar.

The National Electoral Jury did not rule on Keiko Fujimori’s request for annulment, but nonetheless began the slow process of revising the disputed ballots, which it said could take several days before proclamation. of the result. For the time being, neither the electoral authorities, nor the international observation missions, have reported any fraud. JNE President Jorge Luis Salas, for his part, said he was surprised at Keiko Fujimori’s request to invalidate the results in more than 800 polling stations. He recalled that during the last elections in 2016, “only 29 polling stations had been called into question”.

Without waiting for the official result, which keeps the country under tension, Argentinian center-left president Alberto Fernandez surprised by congratulating Pedro Castillo, the “elected president of Peru”. This reaction earned Argentina a “protest note” from the Peruvian government, delivered to the Argentine ambassador in Lima. Nicaragua, through its vice-president and government spokesperson, Rosario Murillo, also congratulated Pedro Castillo on his “victory”, as did Bolivian President Luis Arce on Twitter. Former Bolivian Presidents Evo Morales and Brazilian Lula da Silva also sent him their congratulations. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for his part regretted having “lost” Peru and estimated that only “a miracle could reverse the trend”.

Pedro Castillo calls for “peace and quiet”

Hundreds of supporters of Pedro Castillo gathered on the evening of June 9 in front of the JNE buildings. “We are there in a preventive way so that the contested votes are correctly verified,” one of them, Juan Gustavo Diaz, told AFP. Supporters of Keiko Fujimori have also gathered in the center of the capital to support their candidate. “Communism no, democracy yes” or even “Until the last vote”, could we read on the banners. No incident was deplored. “Let us not fall for the provocations of those who want to see this country in chaos. Therefore, we call for peace and quiet, ”Pedro Castillo tweeted.

Cardinal Pedro Barreto, who during a ceremony 20 days before the poll had solemnly made the two candidates promise to respect democratic institutions, on June 10 described as “irresponsible” the actions calling into question the electoral process and called the candidates to accept “the will of the people”. The Peruvian armed forces urged the day before “all Peruvians to respect the results of the electoral process” and pledged “to respect the will of the citizens expressed at the ballot box”. The Peruvian navy also denied on June 10 any suggestion of conspiracy after the broadcast of an audio tape suggesting that a conspiracy of naval officers against “constitutional order” was in preparation.

Meriem Laribi, with AFP

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