Peru: Pedro Castillo declared president

Former school teacher Pedro Castillo has won the disputed election in Peru and will become the country’s next president, election officials said on Monday.

The presidential vote, which had taken place on June 6, had been held up by claims of election fraud by his right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori.

Why were the results held up?

Castillo had led unofficially by a narrow margin of 44,000 votes. The Organization of American States, the European Union, Canada, Britain and the US State Department had all maintained that the elections were clean.

But Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, challenged the count.

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On Monday, however, she said she was going to recognize the official results because it was mandated by “the law and the constitution that I have sworn to defend.” At the same time, she restated her claim that thousands of votes have been stolen and urged her supporters to continue protests.

She added the truth was “going to come out anyway.”

This is Fujimori’s third attempt to claim Peru’s highest office. The 46-year-old has been hounded by corruption charges over her two earlier presidential bids. She now faces an imminent graft trial that would otherwise be delayed until after her presidential term.

The National Jury of Elections (JNE), the official election body, rejected the final five appeals presented by Fujimori’s Popular Force party last week.

Castillo is expected to take office next week for a five-year term.

“I ask that Keiko Fujimori not place barriers in the way, so that we may move forward and make this a government of all Peruvians,” he said.

Who is supporting who?

Peru has been rocked by protests for over a month as ardent supporters of both camps took to the streets and electoral officials delayed on naming the winner.

The 51-year-old Castillo, born to illiterate peasants in rural Peru, saw enthusiastic support from his rural base. Hundreds of his voters came from the countryside to the capital, Lima, to camp outside the office of the JNE last month.

Similarly, Fujimori was endorsed by members of right and center-right parties and retired military personnel. During their marches, her supporters had held up banners that read “no to communism,” in reference to Castillo’s leftist ideas.

The election review was also been paused last month after one of the four judges of the JNE had to step down due to charges of corruption.

What is Castillo’s plan?

Castillo has pledged to redraft the constitution and hike taxes of mining farms. In recent weeks, however, he has softened his rhetoric and hinted at a market-friendly approach.

“I ask for effort and sacrifice in the struggle to make this a just and sovereign country,” he said in his first comments as president-elect.

Peru’s economy has been battered by the pandemic, with many plunged into poverty.

rm/dj (AFP, AP)


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