Election Fraud

Conservatives Cry Fraud in Peru Presidential Election

Conservatives Cry Fraud in Peru Presidential
Election 1

Keiko Fujimori, the far-right candidate in Peru’s presidential election on Sunday, claimed late on Monday that her party had evidence of “concerning” irregularities that may constitute fraud.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Peru’s National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) has not declared a winner in Sunday’s national vote. Fujimori appeared in the election – a runoff set by a separate election featuring numerous candidates in April – against far-left Leninist candidate Pedro Castillo. It is Fujimori’s third appearance in a presidential runoff election.

ONPE’s latest update Monday morning showed the agency had counted 97.311 percent of the vote. Castillo led Fujimori in the latest update with 50.227 percent of the vote to Fujimori’s 49.773 percent, a difference of about 77,000 votes out of over 18 million. Much of the outstanding vote is made up of ballots from abroad, which political observers believe will go for Fujimori, though it remains unclear if by enough to give her the win.

Fujimori appeared to be leading in votes from most of the counting process. Peruvian political observers attributed this to the fact that ONPE, based in Lima, counts the votes geographically closest to its headquarters first. Polls prior to the election showed Fujimori with a significant lead in Lima and the major cities and much of Castillo’s support in the nation’s more remote areas, whose votes take longer to arrive in Lima than those from urban areas. Castillo defeated Fujimori in the first round of the presidential election in April and consistently led – though within the margin of error of many polls – in surveys published in anticipation of Sunday’s election.

Neither candidate has declared victory or conceded, but Fujimori issued a public statement late Monday declaring that her party had evidence of “a clear intention to boycott the popular will” through electoral fraud. Fujimori suggested that the votes coming in from rural areas had been tampered with to benefit Castillo.

“After voting, there have occurred several irregularities that concern us,” Fujimori said, according to Radio Programas de Perú (RPP). “We think it is important to show it and convene citizens to know if more irregularities exist.”

Fujimori went on to show several videos she claimed depicted volunteers of Castillo’s communist Free Peru party tampering with ballots at the counting table. She also accused Free Peru volunteers of challenging ballots in her favor and having them discarded despite no evidence that they were incorrectly filled in or otherwise invalid. Over one thousand sets of ballots, Fujimori claimed, in her favor had thus been discarded inappropriately. RPP noted that, according to ONPE at the time, only 265 sets of ballots had been challenged in general.

“This is something that is planned, systematic, that is why it’s important to alert the citizenry so that they tell us if there were any other developments,” Fujimori added. She encouraged citizens to use the hashtag #fraudeenmesa (“fraud at the table”) to share evidence of election irregularities, but at press time most of the posts in the hashtag are videos of Korean pop stars or other irrelevant content leftists have flooded the hashtag with to dilute it.

Police have formally intervened in at least one instance of election fraud: a member of Free Peru allegedly marking ballots for Castillo in Lima. The major international observers in Peru for the election have largely abstained at press time from weighing in on Fujimori’s claims, however. The Organization of American States (OAS) – which most recently intervened to accuse the leftist government of former Bolivian President Evo Morales of fraud in the October 2019 election there – issued a press release on Monday congratulating Peruvians on holding a free and fair election. The OAS mission to observe the election was present in 18 of Peru’s 196 provinces and five international cities where Peruvian government stations were collecting expatriate votes.

“The members of the mission observed that the installation of the [voting] tables occurred fluidly and without major inconveniences,” the OAS noted.

“The mission was aware of isolated incidents, as well as the recognition that ballots had been found marked in favor of one of the political powers in contention,” the regional organization nonetheless noted – presumably referring to the Free Peru attempted fraud in Lima – but applauded election authorities for their “immediate intervention.”

While Free Peru remains in the lead at press time and it is the conservative Popular Force party that alleges fraud, the only documented political violence in the aftermath of the election has been executed by Free Peru supporters. Videos from Arequipa, southern Peru, taken on Monday show restless crowds attacking police and authorities deploying tear gas and water cannons to disperse those assembled.

Local reports indicate that about 200 leftists had congregated and began “confronting” police in the city; the reasons for the attacks on police remain unclear. Police reportedly arrested seven people among the crowd carrying rocks and other rudimentary weapons and threatening police.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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