Peru vote review in turmoil after judge quits

Almost three weeks after a cliffhanger presidential election in Peru, the announcement of final results appeared even further off Thursday after a judge on the jury reviewing disputed votes quit.

Leftist candidate Pedro Castillo took a majority of votes, according to the unconfirmed count, in an election slammed as fraudulent by his corruption-accused right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori.

But the election has not been called due to fraud claims from the Fujimori camp, which asked the National Jury of Elections (JNE) to review thousands of votes.

If she loses, Fujimori risks an imminent graft trial which would otherwise be delayed until after her presidential term.

One of four judges on the JNE announced late Wednesday he “declined” to continue his duties, from which he cannot resign under law until after the job at hand is done.

The JNE, in response, said it was weighing “immediate measures to safeguard democracy and to avoid affecting the completion of the electoral process.”

The jury can appoint a stand-in judge.

According to the vote count, Castillo received 50.12 percent of ballots in the June 6 runoff election — some 44,000 more than Fujimori.

Amid the long drawn-out uncertainty, retired soldiers allied to Fujimori have urged the armed forces to intervene to prevent Castillo, who they label a “communist”, assuming the presidency.

The United States has declared the vote “free, fair, accessible and peaceful” and the Organization of American States has said it was without any “serious irregularities.”

The JNE has already rejected the majority of Fujimori’s objections.

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