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Leftist Castillo claims election victory in Peru

June 16, 2021

Although all votes have been counted, Pedro Castillo's right-wing rival, Keiko Fujimori, has called on some ballots to be annulled, claiming fraud.

Peru leftist candidate Pedro Castillo
Leftist Pedro Castillo has declared himself Peru's next president, although the final electoral outcome is uncertainImage: Gian Masko/AFP

Leftist candidate Pedro Castillo claimed victory on Tuesday after the final votes were counted from Peru's June 6 presidential election, although his rival, right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, disputes the outcome. 

Although the count has been completed, the result has not been officially announced by election authorities. Nevertheless, Castillo thanked his supporters on Twitter. 

"A new time has begun," Castillo said in a tweet thanking his supporters. "Millions of Peruvians have stood up in defense of their dignity and justice."

Castillo, a 51-year-old rural school teacher, has a lead of more than 44,000 votes, garnering 50.12% to Fujimori's 49.87%, according to the ONPE election body. 

Fujimori calls on election jury to overturn results

However, Fujimori has cried fraud in the election, and called on the JNE election jury to annul thousands of ballots, which could shift the results in her favor. The JNE jury is tasked with calling the final winner.

Fujimori told supporters in Lima on Tuesday that she would keep fighting and "defend Peru's democracy."

"Today a result has come out ... a result from the ONPE count, but the most important thing is the evaluation of the ballot boxes," Fujimori told rally-goers. "We trust the authorities, yes, but we trust more in the popular will."

Some prominent Fujimori supporters have even called for new elections to be held. 

Castillo's Free Peru Party has shot down the fraud allegations, with Castillo's running mate for vice president, Dina Boluarte, saying the call for new elections is an attempt to "generate violence." 

What's at stake in this election?

The disputes over the election results could take days or even weeks to fully resolve.

If Fujimori does not win the election, she could face trial on corruption charges. She is accused of taking campaign funds for previous presidential bids from controversial Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht. If convicted, Fujimori could spend 30 years in prison.

The two candidates also come from very different backgrounds, and represent different strata of Peruvian society.

Castillo was born to two illiterate peasants in rural Peru, while Fujimori is the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, who governed the country from 1990 to 2000. 

wd/wmr (Reuters, AFP)