Peru’s leftist Castillo claims victory in presidential run-off, condemns rival Fujimori for claims of fraud

Trade union leader Pedro Castillo has declared himself the victor in the Peruvian presidential election. His opponent Keiko Fujimori refused to concede and claimed without evidence that the vote was fraudulent.

“The people have spoken,” Castillo told supporters late on Tuesday in front of his Peru Libre party’s headquarters. He was speaking before the official count in last Sunday’s second-round vote was finished, but it was pointing to his imminent victory. With over 99% of the votes counted, he led by a small margin of around 70,000 votes.

Based on information from our electoral observers, we now have the party’s official count, and the people have made this gesture, which we salute. For this reason, I also ask you not to react to provocation,” Castillo said.

The politician was referring to the allegations made by his right-wing opponent, who claimed on Monday that the election was stolen from her through fraud. She didn’t produce any solid evidence to back her claim. Fujimori’s supporters from the Peruvian business world reportedly plan to seek the annulment of some 100,000 votes cast for her opponent.

During her previous unsuccessful attempt to win the presidency in 2016, Fujimori likewise blamed irregularities for her opponent Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s win, after he beat her by a less than 1% margin. He was forced to resign in 2018 under pressure from the Fujimori-led opposition. His successor, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached twice and ultimately removed from office in 2020, with all members from Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party voting for conviction.

Fujimori’s fraud claims were contradicted by both domestic and international observers. The monitor mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) congratulated Peru for holding a democratic and peaceful election and commended the election authorities for tackling the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 epidemic.

Castillo’s party condemned Fujimori and her supporters for spreading false claims and “promoting political and social instability of the country”. The party asked supporters “to remain vigilant” and called on election officials to be “responsible and strict in fulfilling their functions and respecting the will of the people.”

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