Castillo leading Fujimori in Peru vote with 97.2 pct. of ballots counted

Lima, Jun 8 (EFE).- Leftist Pedro Castillo is holding a 78,737-vote lead over his rightist rival, Keiko Fujimori, in Peru’s runoff presidential election with 97.28 percent of the ballots counted.

According to the latest official tally, Castillo – with the Peru Libre party – has garnered 50.23 percent of the valid votes (8,596,896) while Fujimori, with the Fuerza Popular, has obtained 49.77 percent, or 8,518,159.

The vote count includes 99.17 percent of the ballots cast on the national level, while 51.57 percent of the votes cast by Peruvians living abroad have been tallied.

In Peru, so far, 18.1 million people are known to have voted, while 156,923 of Peruvians living abroad cast their ballots in the contest last Sunday.

Despite Castillo’s current advantage, Fujimori said Monday that she remains “optimistic” that “the voting will even out” when the tabulation of the ballots cast abroad is taken into account, given that she enjoys broad popularity among Peruvians living outside the country.

In fact, the arrival of votes cast abroad, for the first time since the start of the vote count, shows that Fujimori is whittling away at Castillo’s overall lead.

However, a small percentage of the votes in remote rural and jungle areas of the country remain to be counted and the votes in those areas are expected to come in favoring Castillo.

Although Fujimori also complained about alleged fraud in the election on the part of Castillo’s legal representatives and supporters, this claim has been broadly rejected both by election authorities and by both international observers and election experts.

Castillo, meanwhile, on Tuesday, has remained silent after the day before saying that “the first thing is to respect the will of the Peruvian people” and hailing the “citizens’ watchfulness over democracy” being performed by his followers gathered outside the National Elections Office (ONPE) in Lima.

The ONPE issued an alert on the social networks calling for “caution regarding fake news about election events” after which it explained the particulars of how such meddling had been detected.

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States congratulated Peru on the mechanisms put in place to ensure election transparency, with the head of the OAS election observers mission in Peru, Paraguay’s Ruben Ramirez, saying that local authorities had used “mechanisms fostering the transparency of election activities and provide certainty to the public.”

In a video message disseminated on the OAS social network accounts, Ramirez said that last Sunday Peruvians went to the polls “to express their will in a peaceful and democratic manner,” acknowledging election authorities “for the organization of a very complex process, marked by the pandemic and by political polarization.”

After explaining that his mission personnel had been deployed in 18 regions in Peru and in five cities abroad where Peruvians were to vote, Ramirez said that the figures gathered so far “confirm the closeness of the results … (in) the rapid tallies as well as in the official figures” provided by the ONPE.

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