Apparent winner of Peru presidential contest says vote must be respected

Lima, Jun 15 (EFE).- The leftist schoolteacher waiting for Peruvian election authorities to certify his victory over right-winger Keiko Fujimori in the June 6 presidential runoff said Tuesday that all sides should respect the outcome of the vote.

“We always defend the democratic framework,” Pedro Castillo told members of Peru’s foreign correspondents association at a press conference in Lima.

“What we have been doing from our side has been not only a defense (of the vote), but also to say to the country that there is no aggression on our part, not administrative, nor psychological, nor political, much less electoral,” he said.

Alluding to Fujimori’s efforts to have some 200,000 votes from areas Castillo carried thrown out based on unsupported accusations of “systematic fraud,” the 51-year-old expressed gratitude to those who have joined his campaign in defending the “forgotten vote” of the population “that has never had a voice.”

“From our side, we reiterate that nobody will encounter any aggression, but neither will we permit continued discrimination against an oppressed people,” Castillo said after his running mate, Dina Boularte, said that Fujimori was resorting to “tricks” to stop the National Electoral Court (JNE) from proclaiming a winner.

“International bodies have already affirmed that the ‘fraud’ she is citing to be able to invalidate this process does not exist,” Boularte said.

Foreign observers gave the election a clean bill of health and the Organization of American States said last Friday that its observation mission had ruled out any “grave irregularities” in the process.

Castillo leads Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, by around 48,000 votes with more than 99.95 percent of the ballots counted.

While Fujimori’s lawyers challenged the results from 804 polling places, all but 175 of those challenges were filed after the statutory deadline.

And all of the challenges examined so far have been dismissed, according to the Castillo campaign, whose claim is consistent with Efe’s analysis of information released by the JNE.

An attorney for the campaign, Anibal Torres, said that Fujimori’s strategy is to delay the proclamation of Castillo as president-elect while scheming to promote a coup or overturn the election.

Monday night, rightist congressman-elect Jorge Montoya called for a fresh ballot in the face of lack of confidence in the electoral system.

The retired admiral said that the election would be invalidated if the JNE failed to designate a winner by July 28, when the next president is due to be sworn-in.

But under Article 184 of Peru’s constitution, election results can be thrown out only if the number of spoiled or blank ballots exceeds two-thirds of the valid votes.

Five years after falling in the second round to fellow rightist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and a decade after her runoff defeat to nationalist Ollanta Humala, Keiko Fujimori awaits the official result knowing that a loss on this occasion will leave her facing trial on money-laundering charges.

Alberto Fujimori is serving a prison term for graft and killings during his 1990-2000 rule, and the money laundering accusations against Keiko likely discouraged some conservatives who share her ideology from voting for her, despite the campaign’s attempt to frame the election as a choice between “freedom and communism.”

Besides being the date of the presidential inauguration, July 28 is the 200th anniversary of Peruvian independence, yet the celebration will probably be a modest one given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 180,000 lives and brought the economy to its knees. EFE amr/dr

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