Fujimori clings to fraud claim in Peru as vote tally nears end

Right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori insisted Saturday that Peru’s presidential election was marred by fraud, as final vote counting dragged on with her leftist rival slightly ahead.

“There was fraud in the voting process. There was manipulation in the voting process,” Fujimori said in a briefing with foreign reporters, as her chances of becoming president seemed to narrow, six days after people in politically turbulent Peru cast ballots.

She alleged there was fraud in the counting of votes, too.

“I am going to recognize the results but we have to wait until the end,” said Fujimori.

She says irregularities in the vote count favored her leftist rival Pedro Castillo, who is ahead by a slim 51,000 votes.

Fujimori risks imminent trial on corruption charges if she loses to Castillo, who has already cast himself as the victor. 

Fujimori has asked election authorities to annul around 200,000 votes. The national election board on Friday gave itself two more days to rule on this, then backtracked.

An election observation mission from the Organization of American States cast doubt Friday on Fujimori’s rigging claims.

But it called on authorities to wait until challenges to the vote had been resolved before calling a winner.

“The Mission has not detected serious irregularities,” the OAS mission said.

Peruvians voted last Sunday for their fifth president in three years after a series of crises and corruption scandals saw three different leaders in office in a single week last November, the last one being the country’s caretaker leader Francisco Sagasti.

Seven of the country’s last 10 leaders have either been convicted or are under investigation for graft.

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