THE AMERICAS

Election results in Peru point to narrow win for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Keiko Fujimori refusing to admit defeat, insisting vote from rural areas will give her victory

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski greets supporters on Sunday night.
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski greets supporters on Sunday night.MARIANA BAZO / REUTERS

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Early results from the election count in Peru’s presidential elections on Sunday pointed to the narrowest of wins for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski over Keiko Fujimori. With 79% of the count in, the former World Bank economist had garnered 50.8% against the daughter of imprisoned former leader Alberto Fujimori, who ran the country in the 1990s.

“We have not won yet and we have to wait for the official results. We need to be careful that our votes are not stolen at the counting table,” said Kuczynski, who is 77 and was prime minister between 2005 and 2006. “But I am sure that the result will be a favorable verdict for democracy. We hate dictatorship and love dialogue. We are conciliatory, we’ll talk to everybody. No more confrontation.”

We need to be careful that our votes are not stolen at the counting table Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

If he wins, Kuczynski, whose Peruvians for Change Party has just 20 of the 130 seats in Congress, will have little choice but to reach compromise with Fujimori and other parties.

On Sunday evening, Fujimori was still insisting she would win when votes from the country’s remote interior provinces were accounted for. “This is a narrow vote, but it shows the vitality of democracy in this country. The figures on television suggest a technical draw. We will wait prudently until the count from rural areas is in. We’re optimistic. Today we have said we don’t want hate, we want unity and reconciliation. We are happy on the road to victory,” she told supporters.

Fujimori focused her campaign on crime, appealing to working-class voters hit hardest by mounting violence

Fujimori, 41, won the first round of voting in April by nearly 20 percentage points but her strong lead in opinion polls disappeared after a string of scandals inside her Popular Force party highlighted voter fears of a return to the corruption and lawlessness associated with her father’s authoritarian rule. Ms. Fujimori’s campaign manager, Joaquín Ramírez, was forced to step down after media reports claimed he was being investigated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration for money laundering.

Fujimori focused her campaign on crime, appealing to working-class voters hit hardest by mounting violence and insecurity. Voters in the tough Pamplona Alta neighborhood in Lima rallied to Fujimori. Residents here close off streets at night with high fences, in a bid to keep thieves out. In the capital’s middle-class neighborhoods, those who can afford it have installed electrified fences, while many restaurants and cafes have attached chains to tables so that users can hook their handbags to them. Crime is the big issue in Peru, and it affects the poorest most.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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