(Update 2: Adds details of Castillo win and speech, minor edits)
Lima, Jul 19 (EFE).- Leftist Pedro Castillo was announced as the new president-elect of Peru on Monday, a month and a half after an election in which the right-wing contender Keiko Fujimori alleged “systematic fraud” without presenting any reliable evidence.
After declaring the latest legal challenges presented by Fujimori as unfounded, the National Elections Jury (JNE) endorsed the results of the June 6 poll, where Castillo obtained 50.12 percent of the votes, just 44,263 votes ahead of Fujimori.
Dina Boluarte was also proclaimed vice president in the plenary session of the JNE held via videoconference.
Minutes after the announcement, Castillo and Boluarte appeared on the balcony of the Peru Libre party headquarters in Lima, where the new leader assured the country that now “Peru comes first,” and called for the loyalty of the people and “effort and sacrifice” to be shared in the “struggle to make Peru more just, more sovereign, more dignified and more humane.”
“I bring here an open heart for each and every one of you. Here, in this chest, there is no resentment,” he said, referring to the polarized second round of the elections.
“This space is to make a government of all Peruvians, of all bloods, without any discrimination. This will be the government where no one is left behind (…) this space is open but with loyalty with transparency,” he emphasized.
Castillo also ratified his “commitment to fight against corruption.”
The proclamation comes eight days before the official swearing-in ceremony on July 28, when Peru will celebrate 200 years of independence and interim president Francisco Sagasti will hand over the position to Castillo, a rural teacher and trade unionist originally from the northern Andean region of Cajamarca.
Ahead of the proclamation, Fujimori had announced that she will recognize the results of the country’s contested election.
“I’ll recognize the results because that’s what the law and the constitution I swore to defend mandate,” Fujimori told reporters.
The candidate stressed that she will accept the official proclamation despite the fact that, in her opinion, it is “illegitimate,” again insisting that Castillo’s party has “stolen thousands of votes.”
She also vowed to mobilize supporters to defend “freedom and democracy,” but urged non-violence.
The JNE earlier on Monday declared null and void the latest five appeals presented by Fuerza Popular, Fujimori’s party, that up to now had hindered authorities from certifying the election results.
The slight vote advantage of Castillo was used by the Peruvian right to emphasize the polarization of the election campaign and ratchet up nationwide tension to an unprecedented level by refusing to acknowledge the results, even going so far as to exhort the armed forces to refuse to obey Castillo, a situation that in practice would constitute a coup d’etat.
The announcement of the vote count on the day after the election showed that Fujimori – the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 30-plus-year sentence for money laundering – had lost her third bid for the presidency, and since then she had claimed that “systematic fraud” had prevented her from winning the ballot.
In a strategy very similar to the one used by former United States president Donald Trump after the 2020 presidential vote, Fujimori tried to nullify some 200,000 votes in Andean, rural and poor precincts where Castillo had won an overwhelming majority, Fujimori claimed that the signatures provided by the voters were faked, although she has never been able to confirm that.
In fact, many of the people whose signatures were challenged have come forward publicly to deny Fujimori’s claims and to reaffirm that the signatures provided at the precincts prior to receiving their ballots were actually theirs.
At the same time, the legitimacy of the Peruvian elections has been endorsed by the Organization of American States and the European Union, as well as by the US and Canadian governments, along with other countries and multilateral institutions.
Meanwhile, and despite having no official proclamation of his win, Castillo immediately began considering himself to be the winner and acting as president-elect by meeting with assorted political and business leaders, along with diplomatic delegations of countries like China. EFE