Marxist-Leninist party's candidate wins presidential election in Peru

Photo: EPA Pedro Castillo (C) greets supporters from a balcony after being proclaimed president-elect of the country, Lima, 19 July 2021.

Marxist village schoolteacher Pedro Castillo won Peru's presidential election, news wires reported. Electoral authorities released the final official results more than a month after the runoff election took place in the South American nation. The candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Peru Libre party received 50.12% of the vote to right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori's 49.87 per cent in the June 6 election, according to the country's electoral body ONPE. Castillo winner of the close run off race after weeks of complaints and appeals, mostly from the Fujimori camp.

Castillo won by just over 44,000 ballots, according to ONPE. Fujimori, 46, was initially leading, but the tide turned when the votes from rural areas, where Castillo has strong support, were counted.She alleged "irregularities" in the counting and "signs of fraud," in allegations dismissed by ONPE. Election observers of the Organization of American States (OAS) also declared that the election had taken place without any major irregularities.

On Monday, Fujimori said in a televised address that she would "accept the results because that's what the law and the constitution that she has sworn to defend prescribe."

More than 25 million Peruvians were called on to cast their ballots in the election. The turnout topped 18 million.

Castillo, 51, wants to build a socialist state, tighten control of the media and abolish the constitutional court. Wielding a pencil the size of a cane, symbol of his Peru Libre party, Castillo popularised the phrase “No more poor in a rich country.”

The economy of Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer, has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the poverty level to almost one-third of the population and eliminating the gains of a decade.

Fujimori, who had planned if she won to pardon her father, former authoritarian president Alberto Fujimori, stood for a neoliberal economic policy and a hard-line security strategy.

In recent years, she has been remanded in custody several times and could face a long prison sentence in an ongoing corruption trial.

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