Peru's presidential runoff election too close to call

Peru's presidential runoff election too close to call

The vote pits a left-wing teacher and populist political newcomer, Pedro Castillo, against a household name, right-winger Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori.

Pedro Castillo, 51, is a relatively new face on the political stage, and was the unexpected victor in the first round vote in April.

In this 24 March, 2021 file photo, presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori waves to supporters as she campaigns on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.

Polls in the runoff election are to open at 7am (local time) in most of the country's 11,700 voting centres, with official results starting to arrive from 11:30pm.

"It's necessary to see how citizens mobilize and participate openly without fear, hate, apprehension and without worry, ' stated Castillo". Above everything is Peru.

The new president will be taking on a country in crisis as Peru struggles with a recession and the highest coronavirus death rate per capita in the world.

Piero Corvetto, head of Peru's top electoral body (ONPE) warned that many polling stations from rural areas - Castillo's stronghold - had yet to be tallied. The breakdown of the ballots yet to be counted - some from overseas that tend to favor Fujimori but more from rural areas where Castillo has been outperforming - suggests Fujimori's path to victory is narrowing.

But his government collapsed amid accusations of grand-scale corruption and he is now serving a 25-year jail sentence for ordering the extrajudicial killings of suspected subversives, most of whom turned out to have nothing to do with Shining Path.

Ms Fujimori, who lost the 2016 election by just 40,000 votes, has said it was a mistake for her not to ask for a recount.

"The country is divided ideologically into two blocs", Jorge Montoya, a congressman-elect for the conservative Popular Renovation Party, said in a TV interview on Sunday evening.

Both Mr Castillo and Ms Fujimori recently sought to reassure voters by signing an "oath for democracy" in which they pledged to protect the independence of the powers of the state.

In a news conference, Ms Fujimori alleged that there had been a "strategy by Peru Libre [Free Peru, the party of Mr Castillo] to distort and delay the results which reflect the popular will".

Ruth Rojas, a Peruvian mother whose daughter has a disability and who says she lives in deep poverty, said she believed neither of the candidates' vows. He has also said he wants to rewrite the country's constitution "to end all inequalities", and that "human rights have to be a priority".

Seeking to appeal to Peru's poor and underprivileged, Fujimori has promised various bonuses to people, including a $2,500 one-time payment to each family with at least one COVID-19 victim.

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