(Update 1: Adds Fujimori statement, minor edits)
Lima, Jun 19 (EFE).- Peru’s right-wing presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori announced Monday that she will recognize the results of the country’s contested election, as leftist Pedro Castillo was expected to be proclaimed leader in the coming hours by the National Jury of Elections (JNE).
“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 Peru Libre has “stolen thousands of votes”
She also vowed to mobilize supporters to defend “freedom and democracy,” but urged non-violence.
Fujimori’s statement came shortly after the JNE confirmed that it will soon proclaim and deliver credentials to the next president of Peru, which, according to the official count is Castillo by just over 44,000 votes.
Just a week before the scheduled inauguration day, the National Elections Board (JNE) 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.
JNE sources confirmed as much to EFE, and now election authorities have a clear path to certifying the results submitted by each of the 60 special boards comprising Peru’s electoral system, a move that is due to happen within the coming hours.
In its ruling, the results of the vote count conducted by the National Electoral Process Office (ONPE) will be validated, whereby Castillo obtained 50.12 percent of the valid votes.
The slight advantage 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 has been claiming that “systematic fraud” had prevented her from winning the balloting.
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, although he has not made any public statements to reporters, preferring to hermetically seal himself off from any such interviews aside from a brief statement to the foreign press during which he took no questions.
Castillo and his team will have just a week to take hold of the reins of power before the July 28 inauguration, which occurs on the country’s 200th anniversary of its independence. EFE