Latin America & Caribbean

Peru poll goes down to the wire as last votes are counted

An electoral worker shows a man where to sign after casting his vote in Lima, Peru, Sunday, June 5, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption The elections were held on Sunday but some ballots are still being counted

Election officials in Peru are counting the last remaining votes from Sunday's presidential poll.

With 99.5% of the votes counted, former World Bank economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has a 0.23 percentage point lead over his rival, Keiko Fujimori.

Both candidates have called for calm and say they are awaiting the final results.

Election officials say counting was delayed by votes coming in slowly from overseas and the remote Amazon region.

River journey

The last ballot boxes arrived from Hamburg, in northern Germany, on Wednesday evening, election officials said.

They said almost 900,000 Peruvians living abroad had been eligible to vote.

Votes cast in the Peruvian Amazon were transported for large stretches by boat.

Image copyright ONPE
Image caption Peruvian election officials brought back some of the ballot papers by boat

Ballot boxes from the Apurimac and Ene valleys, where remnants of the Maoist rebel movement Shining Path are still active, had to be flown out for security reasons.

The latest tally of votes is available at the Peruvian electoral commission (ONPE) website.

Outgoing President Ollanta Humala urged the authorities "to deliver the results in the quickest and most-responsible manner".

The closeness of the result came as a surprise after polls in the run-up to the election had suggested Keiko Fujimori had a comfortable lead over Mr Kuczynski.

'Risk to democracy'

Analysts said corruption scandals in Ms Fujimori's Popular Force Party may have dented her support since April, when she comfortably won the first round of voting.

She is the daughter of Peru's former President, Alberto Fujimori, who is in jail for crimes against humanity.

Shadow of jailed ex-president cast over Peru polls

Keiko Fujimori

Image copyright AP
Image caption Keiko Fujimori wants to become Peru's first female president
  • Born in Lima in 1975
  • Her father, Alberto Fujimori, was president of Peru from 1990 to 2000 and is now in jail
  • Served as First Lady from 1994 to 2000 after her mother and her father divorced
  • Studied business administration in the US
  • Was a member of Congress from 2006 to 2011 for Lima
  • Campaigned on a promise of being tough on crime

In the run-up to the second round, Mr Kuczynski portrayed Ms Fujimori as a "risk to democracy", reminding voters of her father's crimes and authoritarian style of government.

But many Peruvians, who credit her father with defeating the Shining Path rebel movement, were drawn to her promise of being tough on crime.

Mr Kuczynski, who is an ex-Wall Street financier, said he would use his international financial experience to promote economic growth.

He has the support of prominent figures such as Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa and left-wing candidate Veronika Mendoza, who came third in the first round of voting.

But he has faced scrutiny over his close relationship to Peru's business elite.

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is an economist who wants to revive Peru's economy
  • Born in Lima in 1938
  • His Jewish father, a doctor, fled Berlin after Adolf Hitler came to power; his Swiss mother taught literature
  • Won a scholarship and studied politics, philosophy and economy at Oxford University
  • Worked for the World Bank and Peru's Central Bank
  • Says the main thing he believes in is equality
  • Campaigned on a promise to create a "transparent government" to deliver clean drinking water and revive Peru's economy

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