Leftist Humala wins first round of Peru's presidential vote

10:55, April 11, 2011      

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A Peruvian living in Chile casts his ballot during Peru's presidential elections in Santiago, capital of Chile, April 10, 2011. Peru's former military commander Ollanta Humala won the first round of Peru's presidential elections on Sunday with around 31.6 and 33.8 percent of the vote, and will face right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori in the second round, according to two unofficial exit polls. (Xinhua)

by Maja Wallengren

Former military commander Ollanta Humala won the first round of Peru's presidential elections on Sunday in a voting process hailed as peaceful and transparent and which saw massive participation by close to 20 million Peruvians.

With between 31.6 and 33.8 percent of the vote, Humala and his leftwing Peru Wins Alliance came out significantly ahead in Sunday's vote. Right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori and her Force 2011 party came in second with between 19.2 and 21.4 percent of the vote, according to two unofficial exit polls.

Humala and Keiko will now face each other in the second round of elections on June 5, as Peru's Constitution states that if no candidate receives more than half of the vote a second round must be held between the two candidates who get the most votes.

The first preliminary official results are scheduled to be released by Peru's National Electoral Process Office at 20:00 local time (0100 GMT Monday).

Peru's outgoing President Alan Garcia praised the Peruvian people for contributing to Sunday's elections being conducted in a peaceful and transparent manner, saying the "serene manner" with which voters had behaved was another "step forward" for Peru as a country.

"Everything has been peaceful across the country and the population has gathered at the ballot boxes in a very serene way," said Garcia after casting his vote in the capital Lima's San Borja district.

Election officials confirmed that Sunday's voting process had been concluded in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility with no major complications and with a massive turnout of Peruvians eager to participate in deciding the South American country's political future.

"There hasn't been any acts carried out that would favor one candidate over the other, or any other act that would prevent a correct handling of the electoral process," said Hugo Sivina of Peru's National Elections Council (JNE) which observes that the elections are developed in an independent and transparent way.

But the civil association Transparency, in its first report on Sunday's vote, denounced 108 acts of irregularities, of which 45 were related to acts of proselytism and 18 related to election centers where there was a shortage of voting material.

Transparency said that three of the 10 presidential candidates were involved in acts of proselytism in interviews with local media earlier on Sunday. The group identified the three candidate as Aejandro Toledo of the Possible Peru party, Pedro Kuczynski the Alliance for Great Change and the National Solidarity's candidate Luis Castaneda.

Already before election centers opened for voting Sunday morning Humala was the front-runner. He has promised Peruvians that he will work to re-distribute Peru's wealth through imposing higher taxes on the rich, renegotiate the country's free trade agreements, clean up in corruption and reform the constitution.

In 2005 he founded the Peruvian Nationalist Party and became the leader of the party one year later, but Humala lost to incumbent President Garcia in his first run for president in Peru's 2006 elections. Sunday's vote is the second time that Humala runs for president.

At 35 years of age Fujimori is the youngest of the 10 candidates, but the business educated daughter of Peru's former President Alberto Fujimori was in 2006 elected member of Congress with the largest number of votes in the country's history.

Keiko, whose campaign has been hurt by the constant allegations of her father's corruption scandals, has promised Peruvians that if elected she will work to ensure Peru's sustained economic growth, create more jobs for the country's poorest while also helping to create better opportunities for the younger generation.

Peru's Defense Minister Jaime Thorne said 45,000 military, police and other security personnel were involved in monitoring the election process in order to ensure that public order prevailed and guarantee the free movement of people.

Besides choosing a new president and two vice presidents in Sunday's vote, Peruvian voters also elected 130 legislators to the National Congress and 15 delegates to the Andean Parliament for the 2011-2016 period.

Source: Xinhua
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