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LATIN AMERICA | 16-06-2021 12:10

Final count in Peru shows Castillo as victor, Fujimori refuses to concede

With 100% of ballots now counted, rural school teacher Pedro Castillo emerges as victor by a margin of just over 44,000 votes.

Nine days after a presidential run-off in Peru, electoral authorities have completed the vote count that showed leftist Pedro Castillo edging out Keiko Fujimori by 44,058 ballots.

That means Castillo, a former school teacher who’s promised to redistribute wealth and who received the overwhelming backing of the country’s poor, received 50.1 percent of the votes against 49.9 percent for Fujimori, according to results published by the electoral council Tuesday afternoon.

Yet the winner of the June 6 election won’t be declared until after Peru’s electoral court rules on thousands of disputed ballots that were deemed irregular by Fujimori’s party. That decision could take several days or weeks, during which tensions may soar in the politically volatile nation.

Castillo, who changed his Twitter profile description to “president-elect of Peru” after the final count was announced, has accused unidentified groups of trying to overturn the election’s result.

“We won’t allow that Peru’s oppressed people continue to be discriminated against,” he told reporters in Lima on Tuesday, before the final results were published. He later thanked Peruvians who voted for him and tweeted that “a new time has begun” in the country.

The stand-off could quickly escalate. Fujimori’s supporters, from lawmakers to former military officials, are calling for new elections as they say the new president would have no legitimacy to govern. Meanwhile, pro-Castillo’s demonstrators are coming from the countryside and gathering in front of the electoral court in Lima.

Fujimori has lost the previous two presidential run-offs despite being the heir to one of the country’s most powerful political clans. This time, she has refused to concede and promised to fight until the end, digging in on fraud allegations that haven’t been corroborated by independent election observers.

“The most important is still missing: the review of votes by the electoral jury,” she told supporters at a late Tuesday rally.

The review of votes currently being carried out by the electoral court could take up to two or three weeks as parties have presented more than 1,000 annulment appeals without any legal basis, according to Jorge Jauregui, a lawyer specialising in electoral law.

“There is no coherent, reasonable argument to say that the voting has been directed at polling stations,” he told Andina news agency in an interview.

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by María Cervantes, Bloomberg

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