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LATIN AMERICA | 09-06-2021 09:12

Peru leftist Castillo signals victory with nearly all votes counted

Leftist presidential candidate Pedro Castillo indicates his party won Sunday's election, but rival right-winger Keiko Fujimori likely to demand recount.

Peru’s leftist presidential candidate Pedro Castillo indicated his party won Sunday’s election, his strongest comments yet about the result of a vote that has roiled markets.

“According to the report of our representatives, we already have the official party count of the votes where the people have imposed themselves on this feat,” Castillo told followers outside his headquarters on Tuesday evening.

He asked backers “not to fall into provocation” and said the business sector was showing support for the party.

Castillo leads Keiko Fujimori by 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent – or a gap of nearly 72,000 votes – with 98.3 percent of ballots counted. Fujimori has denounced some irregularities in the process, saying the rival party was “distorting or delaying” the results, but hasn’t yet provided evidence to back up her claim.

Five years ago, Fujimori lost by a razor-thin margin in the 2016 run-off and has said that she regrets not seeking a recount then.

Peruvian markets rebounded Tuesday after Castillo sought to reassure investors concerned about his economic policies. In a statement Monday evening, he said would pay the country’s debt, preserve Central Bank independence and wouldn’t pursue nationalisations of key industries.

Fujimori hasn’t elaborated on what strategy she may pursue to potentially challenge the outcome. The electoral court is expected to meet Wednesday afternoon.

While the tight margin has fuelled uncertainty and tension in the Andean country of 32 million people – with the country nearly split in half, largely along rural and urban lines – some in financial markets see a silver lining. Investors may be encouraged by the idea that neither candidate would have the political mandate to drastically overhaul one of South America’s steadiest economies.

Fujimori, who is under investigation for corruption and campaigned while out on bail, has vowed to save the country from “communism” by preserving a liberal economic model. She’s also promised to boost cash payments to families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic where more than 187,000 people have died, the highest per capita death toll in the world.

Castillo, by contrast, has pledged to increase taxes on mining and oil companies to invest on education and health. He blames the country’s inequality on the ruling elite whom he says has long been content to run Peru from Lima while ignoring large swathes of the country.

The left-winger said that some foreign governments have already begun to congratulate him in private, without elaborating.

“We will be a government that’s respectful of democracy and the current constitution,” Castillo told supporters Tuesday evening. “We’ll be respectful and will be a government with financial and economic stability.”

 

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by María Cervantes, Bloomberg

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