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Peru election race still too close to call

June 8, 2021

A late surge of rural votes has propelled former schoolteacher Pedro Castillo past conservative rival Keiko Fujimori in Peru's presidential race, which remains too close to call.

Peru presidential candidate Pedro Castillio
Former schoolteacher Pedro Castillo is leading in the Peru presidential electionImage: Martin Mejia/AP Photo/picture alliance

Leftist candidate Pedro Castillo took a small lead in Peru's polarizing presidential runoff late Monday, but his right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori refused to concede, alleging fraud.

According to the official count, the 51-year-old former schoolteacher has taken 50.29% of the vote and Fujimori, 46, has 49.71%, with around 96% of ballots counted.

Castillo had been trailing in the vote count; however, a late surge of votes from rural areas propelled him past Fujimori. 

Fujimori alleges fraud

In a press conference hosted Monday evening soon after Castillo took the lead, Fujimori accused his supporters of stealing votes and committing election fraud.

"There's a clear intention to boycott the will of the people," Fujimori said, claiming she had evidence of "irregularities" and "signs of fraud." 

"We have noticed that there has been a strategy [...] to distort or delay the results that reflect the popular will," Fujimori said without providing any conclusive evidence. 

She also called upon her supporters to bring forth new allegations on social media if they exist.

Castillo's Free Peru party has rejected these allegations, and called on election authorities to "protect the vote" as ballots are counted. 

Peru presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori
Fujimori has alleged fraud as she trails in the electionImage: Guadalupe Pardo/AP Photo/picture alliance

Peru election still too close to call

Experts say it could be days before the official result of the election is announced. No candidate is expected to concede defeat before the final count is in. 

Regardless, the winner will face enormous challenges as Peru struggles with a flailing economy and COVID-19

Castillo has pledged to amend Peru's constitution, which was approved under the leadership of Fujimori's father, jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori. Castillo had said "human rights have to be a priority."

Fujimori's right-wing Popular Force party is favored among Peru's business elite and middle classes. She was the runner-up in Peru's 2011 and 2016 presidential elections.

see/wmr (Reuters, AP, AFP)