Thousands of Peruvians have taken to the streets of the capital Lima to call for Keiko Fujimori, the frontrunner in upcoming presidential elections, to be disqualified from the race over reports of electoral irregularities.
In demonstrations on Friday, protesters said the daughter of Alberto Fujimori, the country's former leader who is serving a 25-year prison term for corruption and human rights abuses, should be barred from candidacy in the April 10 election for allegedly violating a new law against vote-buying.
Electoral authorities are investigating the accusations after photographs and video reportedly showed her and a running mate handing out gifts at rallies.
Fujimori has denied the allegations and called them "absurd".
The electoral board has also been accused of wrongdoing and political bias, which it denies, after two candidates were dismissed from the race in an unprecedented move that drastically boosts Fujimori's chance of winning.
The electoral body disqualified Julio Guzman, Fujimori's main rival, over a technical error in registering for candidacy, saying he failed to comply with electoral procedures.
| Many credit Keiko Fujimori's father with ending Peru's longstanding conflict with rebels and improving the economy [AP]
Guzman has called the move fraudulent and "part of a corrupt system". Last week he failed to win an appeal against his exclusion from the race.
Cezar Acuna, a fourth-place candidate, was barred from running after reportedly giving cash to poor voters while campaigning.
Protesters chanted "Stop Keiko!" as they marched through the centre of the country's capital and demonstrated outside the headquarters of the National Elections Council.
"People are rising up to say enough of these irregularities and the Fujimori ambition of returning to power," said Jorge Rodriguez, an organiser of a group called Fujimori Never Again.
Fujimori, who narrowly lost her first presidential bid in 2011, has long been the favorite for this year's race.
She inherited a solid stock of support from her father, whom many credit with ending a 20-year-long conflict with rebels and fixing the country's economy in the 1990s.
But many Peruvians oppose her for her links to her father's authoritarian government, even after she has softened her once staunch defence of him.
Alberto Fujimori's convictions included ordering a death squad to commit a massacre that resulted in the deaths of 25 people in 1992.
His administration also forced more than 200,000 women and thousands of men to be sterlised as part of programme seeking to lower birth rates and stimulate the economy.
|Ex-president Alberto Fujimori is serving a 25-year prison term for corruption and human rights abuses [File: GETTY]