LIMA – Thursday marked the official end of campaigning ahead of Peru’s weekend general elections amid criticism from international observers about a new electoral regime that has already seen two presidential candidates barred from the contest.
With the balloting set for Sunday, the JNE elections board has yet to rule on a last-minute motion seeking the disqualification of front-runner Keiko Fujimori for allegedly attempting to buy votes.
Election observer delegations from the U.S.-based Carter Center and the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas have expressed concern over the possible exclusion of a third presidential hopeful on the eve of the elections.
The delegations spoke out after the head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, described the Peruvian electoral process as “semi-democratic” and plagued by uncertainty.
Last month, the JNE accepted excluded economist Julio Guzman – then running second to Fujimori in the polls – and businessman Cesar Acuña, while the governing Nationalist Party decided to withdraw its candidates for president and congress, pointing to the “manifest and marked absence of the principle of electoral certainty.”
While the polls agree that Keiko Fujimori, daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, will finish first on Sunday, she is not expected to garner enough votes to avoid a runoff, provisionally scheduled for June.
Surveys indicate the battle for second place and a spot in the runoff is between Veronika Mendoza, standard-bearer of the leftist Broad Front, and former Cabinet minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, representing the right-wing PPK.
Keiko Fujimori’s bid has revived memories of the corruption and human rights violations of her father’s 1990-2000 tenure, spurring massive protests against her candidacy.
In recent days, Keiko, 40, has intensified efforts to distance herself from the legacy of her father, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for massacres that occurred during his rule.
The younger Fujimori signed a document proclaiming her “unqualified respect for the democratic order and human rights,” vowed to fight corruption and said that as president, she would not use her political power to benefit any member of her family.
Even so, suspicions remain that a President Keiko Fujimori would grant her father a pardon.