Presidential hopeful Fujimori repeats Peru vote fraud claims

Peru’s rightwing presidential hopeful Keiko Fujimori, narrowly trailing in an unconfirmed count of votes cast on June 6, repeated fraud allegations Thursday as a review of disputed ballots held up the final result.

At a press conference where she took no questions and offered no proof, Fujimori claimed that supporters of her leftist rival Pedro Castillo had altered ballots after the fact, and cast extra votes using fake signatures.

If Castillo is declared the winner, Fujimori faces a corruption trial that would otherwise have been delayed until after her presidential term.

“There are clear allegations of irregularities, of manipulation by members of Peru Libre (Free Peru),” Castillo’s party, she said.

“What we want is to know the truth. This is the call we make to the National Jury of Elections (JNE),” in charge of the review of thousands of ballots challenged by both parties, but mainly by Fujimori.

The JNE is ultimately tasked with declaring a winner, though it is not known how long this will take.

Flanked by six advisors, including lawyers and leaders of her Popular Force party, Fujimori said she had requested the voter’s roll from the ONPE elections authority to verify signatures.

She said she would be “respectful” of the final outcome, “but it is crucial that all this information be known.”

Based on the unconfirmed count, Castillo has taken 50.12 percent of the vote — a lead of some 44,000 votes — in the June 6 runoff after emerging a surprise victor of the first election round in April.

He has rejected calls from Fujimori supporters for the election to be annulled.

Prosecutors have said they would seek a 30-year jail term for Fujimori on charges of taking money from scandal-tainted Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to fund failed presidential bids in 2011 and 2016.

Fujimori, who has already spent 16 months in pre-trial detention, denies the allegations.

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