Post-election fight leaves Peru’s next leader with 8 days to form gov’t

By Carla Samon Ros

Lima, Jul 20 (EFE).- Peruvian President-elect Pedro Castillo has just eight days to prepare for his inauguration thanks to the protracted battle waged by defeated opponent Keiko Fujimori to overturn the result based on her unsupported claims of fraud.

Monday’s formal proclamation of the leftist schoolteacher as president-elect came 43 days after the June 6 runoff election, the longest interval in four decades.

The National Electoral Court (JNE) confirmed that Castillo prevailed with 50.12 percent of the vote after rejecting in their totality the myriad objections and legal challenges brought by Fujimori to avoid a third defeat in as many presidential elections.

While she finally recognized the result “because it is what the law and the constitution mandates,” the 46-year-old daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori said that she considers Castillo’s election illegitimate.

Keiko Fujimori repeated her allegation that Castillo’s campaign stole “thousands of votes” on June 6, though international observers deemed the process free and fair.

With the inauguration set for July 28, the bicentennial of Peruvian independence, Castillo has a little more than a week to accomplish what amounts to at least a month’s worth of work.

Violeta Bermudez, prime minister in the government of interim President Francisco Sagasti, acknowledged Tuesday that a week is “insufficient” for the transition.

She added, however, that the Sagasti administration has been making preparations for the change since late May.

Castillo, a 51-year-old newcomer to politics, has declined to discuss who he might name to top positions pending the final proclamation by the JNE.

But the secretary of the president-elect’s Peru Libre party, Richard Rojas, said Tuesday that Castillo has already assembled his Cabinet.

Peru continues to struggle with Covid-19, which has claimed 187,000 lives in the country and devastated the economy, and most speculation has centered on Castillo’s likely choices to lead the health and economy ministries.

The consensus among observers is that Dr. Hernando Cevallos will be named health minister, while the economy portfolio will go to center-left economist Pedro Francke, whose association with Castillo has already gone some way to reassure the financial markets amid Fujimori’s attempt to paint her opponent as a communist.

Former lawmaker Roger Najar, author of the Peru Libre election platform, is seen as a nearly sure bet to become prime minister.

The biggest challenge to Castillo’s agenda is likely to come from a fractured, highly polarized Congress.

Peru Libre, with 37 members, constitutes the largest bloc in the 130-seat legislature, but the party will need allies to get anything accomplished in the face of opposition from Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular.

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’s loss to Castillo means that she cannot avoid 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 may have discouraged some conservatives who share her ideology from voting for her. EFE


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