Peru: Pedro Castillo claims victory, his opponent fights results

The left-wing candidate, Castillo, is 44,058 votes ahead of Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of an imprisoned former president.

Pedro Castillo addressing supporters from the headquarters of the 'Free Peru' party in Lima, Peru [Sebastian Castaneda/Reuters]

Pedro Castillo, Peru’s left-wing candidate has claimed victory in the presidential election, after clinging on to a narrow lead as the lengthy vote count ended, while his right-wing rival pledged to fight the result and has yet to concede.

The counting ended with Castillo 44,058 votes ahead of Keiko Fujimori on Tuesday, who has made allegations of fraud with little proof and has tried to get some votes annulled. The result of the June 6 ballot has not been formally announced by electoral authorities, but Castillo hailed the win on Twitter.

“A new era has begun,” Castillo wrote, alongside a picture of himself with arms raised, the word “President” in large font and his campaign slogan: “No more poor in a rich country.”

He also updated his Twitter profile to include “President-elect of the Republic of Peru (2021-2026).”

Translation: A new era has begun. Millions of Peruvians have stood up in defence of their dignity and justice. Thanks to the people of Peru who, from their diversity and historical strength, have given me their trust. My government will be dedicated to all its citizens.

The abrupt rise of the 51-year-old former teacher has rattled Peru’s political and business elite and could have a significant effect on the vital mining industry in the world’s second copper producer, with Castillo planning sharp tax increases on the sector.

Fujimori, addressing supporters at a rally in downtown Lima on Tuesday, pledged to keep fighting and “defend Peru’s democracy”. She hoped the result would swing her way once ballots that her party is seeking to annul had been checked.

Supporters of Keiko Fujimori gathering near the National Jury of Elections, in Lima, Peru [Angela Ponce/Reuters]

“Today a result has come out, yes, a result from the ONPE [electoral body] count, but the most important thing is the evaluation of the ballot boxes,” she said. “We trust the authorities, yes, but we trust more in the popular will.”

Castillo’s Free Peru party has rejected accusations of fraud and international observers in Lima have stated that the elections were transparent.

Castillo had promised earlier in the day he would not allow rivals to deny the will of the people and overturn the election, which has seen supporters on both sides take to the streets in recent days.

Castillo, the son of peasant farmers, had 50.125 percent of the votes, while Fujimori, the eldest daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, had 49.875 percent.

Castillo told reporters at the Lima headquarters of his party that he would respect electoral authorities and urged them to end the uncertainty by confirming the result quickly.

Supporters of Pedro Castillo gathered outside the headquarters of the Free Peru party, in Lima, Peru [Angela Ponce/Reuters]

“We’re not going to allow an oppressed people to continue to be discriminated against for more years,” Castillo said. “Things have been put on the table democratically, and there needs to be a democratic way out.”

“Things are still being stigmatised, there are still calls from other sides to try to overthrow an election, and we will not allow it,” he said.

Castillo has galvanised rural and poorer voters who feel left behind in the country’s economic growth. His rise could portend a swing to the left in Brazil, Chile and Colombia, who will vote for new leaders this year and next.

Source: News Agencies