Deeply Divided Peru Awaits Final Results of Presidential Vote | Elections News

Pedro Castillo has a slim lead over Keiko Fujimori after what an expert says is “one of the tightest elections in the country”.

Peruvians are still awaiting the final results of their the country’s presidential election, while left-wing union leader Pedro Castillo retains a very slim advantage over right-wing Keiko Fujimori days after the deeply polarized vote.

With 99.8% of ballots counted Wednesday afternoon, Castillo got 50.19% support against 49.8% for Fujimori.

Sunday’s second round came amid years of political instability in Peru, which is also struggling to cope with the outbreak COVID-19 infections and deaths and an economic slowdown linked to the pandemic.

Castillo leads by more than 67,000 of the 17.4 million valid votes counted, but with the votes still being counted and the ballots contested by both sides, announcing a final official result could take days.

the the account has slowed down as the ballots are sent from abroad, as well as arriving in the capital, Lima, from the most remote rural areas of Peru – a stronghold of support for Castillo.

Fujimori, the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, has raised unsubstantiated allegations that Castillo supporters attempted to steal votes and her team signaled their intention to challenge the result in court.

Castillo’s party strongly denied the allegations and election observers, including electoral body ONPE and the Organization of American States, said the vote went smoothly.

On Wednesday, the Peruvian army also pledged in a statement to “respect the will of the people expressed at the ballot box”, as calls circulated on social networks for the armed forces to prevent Castillo from taking power.

“In Peru, as in any democracy, electoral results must be respected,” José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, tweeted Wednesday night.

Vivanco said any allegation of fraud must be substantiated with “solid evidence”, while international human rights law requires “every vote to be counted and respected.”

Hundreds of voters from both sides took to the streets to protest for their candidate, most peacefully and sometimes with musicians and dancers.

Supporters of Peruvian presidential candidate Pedro Castillo rally outside the Peru Libre de Castillo party headquarters in Lima on June 6 [File: Liz Tasa/Reuters]

The two candidates had previously agreed to respect the result of the vote.

Whoever wins will take control of an economy that has been battered by COVID-19 and the world highest coronavirus death rate per capita. Two million Peruvians lost their jobs during the pandemic and nearly a third now live in poverty, official figures show.

“It is unlikely that at this point Fujimori will overtake Castillo,” David Sulmont, sociology professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and former head of their voting unit, told Reuters news agency.

“It is one of the tightest elections in the country,” he added. “The margin can continue to vary, but I think Castillo will be the winner.”

Castillo said on Wednesday that party observers saw his triumph a fait accompli.

“On behalf of the Peruvian people”, he thanked “the embassies and governments of Latin America and other countries” for the messages of congratulations on his “victory”.

No government has officially recognized a Castillo victory, although former Bolivian President Evo Morales sent a message of “congratulations on this victory”.

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