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Keiko Fujimori pledges to avoid authoritarian ways of father

Sertan Sanderson (with agencies)
April 4, 2016

Peru's presidential front-runner Keiko Fujimori has signed a pledge committing her to avoiding her father's authoritarian style. Alberto Fujimori is currently in prison for human rights abuses during his 10-year reign.

Keiko Fujimori
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Mejia

Keiko Fujimori had initially run into considerable opposition during her campaign, amid fears that she might reactivate the government of her father, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence for human rights abuses and corruption during his reign from 1990 to 2000.

"I know how to look at the history of my country. I know what chapters should be repeated, and I'm very clear on which ones shouldn't," Fujimori said during her final message in a televised debate.

She later shared the pledge she had signed on Twitter.

The elections could be a decisive moment for Peru, one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America.

Not her father's daughter

The document committed Fujimori to respecting human rights, protecting freedom of the press, fighting corruption and honoring Peru's "democratic order." Her critics, however, dismissed the pledge as a cynical ploy to win votes.

A group known as the "Collective No To Keiko" said on Twitter that Keiko Fujimori was part of "the same mafia" as her father, engaging in "the same sweet-talk." Other critics have voiced similar views.

Peru's highest court had conducted a bribery probe into Keiko Fujimori's campaign, concluding on April 2, however, that it could not prove any wrongdoing on the part of the presidential candidate that would bar her from running for office.

A family affair

Without referring to any specific individuals, Fujimori vowed that she would not use her political power to "the benefit of any member of her family," adding there would never again be "another 5th of April," referring to her father's seizure of power and dissolution of Congress in a coup on that date in 1992.

Keiko Fujimori's brother Kenji Fujimori is also engaged in politics, working as a congressman since the country's last election in 2011.

However, Keiko Fujimori's party, the Fuerza Popular (FP), is widely regarded to be a Fujimorist movement. Running under the name "Fuerza 2011" during the 2011 elections, the party had previously claimed to be following Alberto Fujimori's legacy.

Tight race to the presidency

The 40-year-old candidate's address came ahead of the April 10 elections in a bid to convince undecided voters. Incumbent President Ollanta Humala is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term. He had narrowly beaten Keiko Fujimori during her first presidential bid in 2011.

Fujimori is widely regarded as the front-runner in the upcoming elections but will likely fail to achieve the simple majority needed to win the presidency outright. A run-off election would be held in June to determine who's next to lead the country. A survey published by pollster Datum on April 1 showed that Fujimori had 36 percent support in a first-round vote but would go on to then win the run-off. Fujimori would likely face 35-year-old leftist lawmaker Veronika Mendoza in that race.

Alberto Fujimori
Alberto Fujimori is currently serving a 25-year sentence for various human rights abuses and severe corruptionImage: Reuters

Mendoza has repeatedly vowed to draft a new constitution for the country, as it continues to operate under the 1993 constitution drawn up under Alberto Fujimori's leadership.

Half of the initial 19 candidates in Peru's presidential election have either abandoned their campaigns or have been banned from running under new election guidelines published in January 2016. Under the new statute, several candidates disqualified for trying to buy votes by way of gift giving.

Electoral observers have said, however, that the new law sowed uncertainty among voters, allowing for candidates to be excluded at a very late stage in the electoral process.