Peru's Fujimori leads rally to annul votes

Keiko Fujimori has increasingly doubled down on unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.
Keiko Fujimori has increasingly doubled down on unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.

Peruvian right-wing presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori, who is likely to lose a run-off election against a socialist rival, has led a protest in Lima, calling again for the annulment of votes that did not favour her.

"If the (electoral) jury analyses this, the election will be flipped, dear friends," Fujimori told thousands of supporters, many waving Peru's red-and-white flag.

"I'm the sort of person who never gives up."

Frontrunner Pedro Castillo, a member of the left-wing Free Peru party, is close to being named the Andean country's next president, despite Fujimori's claims, as the count from the second round of voting earlier this month nears an end.

But Fujimori this week has increasingly doubled down on unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, saying supporters of Castillo stole votes in rural areas where she received no votes.

International observers have said there is no evidence of fraud and that the election was clean.

Castillo was leading by 50,000 votes on Saturday evening, with only about 16,000 votes remaining to be counted.

The next president will take over from interim leader Francisco Sagasti at the end of July.

Fujimori says she has sought the annulment of 200,000 already-counted ballots, although the majority of those requests were submitted after a critical deadline, meaning they are unlikely to be considered.

"We won, teacher Pedro Castillo (is) President," his party wrote on Twitter late on Friday.

Fujimori has also blamed the "international left" for pushing for a Castillo victory, citing how Argentina and Bolivia, countries led by left-wing leaders, have been quick to recognise the socialist candidate as Peru's president-elect.

Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, is facing legal woes of her own.

Prosecutors this week sought to jail her again on allegations of money laundering, for which they are asking for 30 years in prison.

Winning the election would halt the criminal process against Fujimori until the end of her administration.

Even if Fujimori were to succeed in annulling some votes, the number of votes still in play make it unlikely she would flip the result.

The tense vote count is the culmination of a bitterly divisive election in Peru, where low-income citizens supported Castillo while wealthier ones voted for Fujimori.

Australian Associated Press