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LATIN AMERICA | 10-06-2021 17:49

Fernández first leader to congratulate Castillo on victory in Peru run-off

Argentina’s president is the first head of state to congratulate Pedro Castillo and hail him as Peru’s next leader – even though rival Keiko Fujimori has said she will challenge the outcome.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández on Thursday became the first president to congratulate left-winger Pedro Castillo and hail him as Peru’s next head of state.

In a post on Twitter, the Peronist leader revealed that he had spoken to Castillo to congratulate him on his victory over right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori in last Sunday’s run-off election.

"Today [Thursday] I contacted @PedroCastilloTe, president-elect of Peru. I expressed my desire that we join forces in favour of Latin America. We are deeply linked nations. I celebrate that the dear Peruvian people face the future in democracy and with institutional strength," he wrote in a post on Twitter.

Castillo, a rural school teacher and trade unionist, has not yet been officially proclaimed the winner of last Sunday’s vote and Fujimori has said she will challenge the outcome, alleging fraud.

Castillo is leading by about 70,000 votes with over 99 percent of the tally completed as of Thursday. According to the ONPE electoral body, Castillo had 50.2 percent of the vote compared to 49.7 percent for Fujimori in her third presidential race.

Late Wednesday, the right-winger asked Peru's National Electoral Tribunal (JNE) to annul the results from more than 800 polling stations, the equivalent of 200,000 votes. The tribunal is expected to take about 10 days to weigh the request. She has also asked for another 300,000 ballots to be reviewed. If the JNE rules in Fujimori's favour, it could change the outcome.

The stakes are high for Fujimori, 46, who faces a corruption trial that would be delayed if she wins the presidential race. If she loses, she will go on trial. 

Prosecutors have said they would seek a jail term of more than 30 years for the populist leader on charges she took money from scandal-tainted Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to fund failed presidential bids in 2011 and 2016. 

Fujimori denies the charges, but has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention. Under Peruvian law, she was allowed to contest the election as she had not been convicted of a crime.

On Thursday, prosecutor José Domingo Pérez asked an organized crime court to revoke Fujimori's parole and remand her in custody for allegedly having met with a witness in a pending corruption case against her against her parole conditions.

The witness, Miguel Ángel Torres, had accompanied her to a press conference on Wednesday.

– TIMES/AFP
 

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