Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Humala seen facing Fujimori in Peru’s presidential run-off

FAMILY:Keiko Fujimori’s opponents are worried that if she becomes president, she would free her father, who is in jail for corruption and human rights crimes

Reuters, LIMA

People dressed as giant guinea pig mascots perform during Peru’s presidential candidate Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s closing campaign rally in Lima on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

Leftist Ollanta Humala is forecast to win the first round of Peru’s tight presidential election tomorrow and face right-winger Keiko Fujimori in a run-off, two new polls showed on Thursday.

His critics fear Humala might roll back years of reforms that have turned Peru into one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, but left one-third of Peruvians living in poverty, many of whom are rallying behind the former soldier.

Polls by survey firms CPI and Ipsos Apoyo that were seen by three sources show Humala with 29 and 28 percent of voter support, about 7 percentage points in front of Fujimori, but well below the 50 percent required for an outright victory.

CURRENCY DIPS

Peru’s currency, the sol, which has slipped on worries about an Humala victory, firmed about 0.4 percent to a two-week high of 2.803 per US dollar on bets that Fujimori, who is viewed as more market-friendly, might be able to beat Humala in a second-round vote on June 5.

Peruvian Minister of Economy and Finance Ismael Benavides said some investors “were worried” about the prospect of Humala taking office and raising mining taxes in a top global producer of copper, zinc, gold and silver.

Humala has sought to recast himself as a soft-left leader like former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, though many voters regard him as a hard-liner with an authoritarian streak he developed as an army colonel.

Humalas’s main rival, Fujimori, has her downside too: She is the daughter of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, who is in jail for corruption and human rights crimes stemming from his crackdown on rebels in the 1990s.

Keiko Fujimori’s opponents are concerned she would free her father, who closed the Peruvian Congress in a power grab blamed for undermining Peru’s democracy. She served as his first lady because he was separated from her mother.

BAD BUNCH

Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who lost to the elder Fujimori in the 1990 presidential race, said neither Humala nor the younger Fujimori would be good presidents.

“It would truly be a catastrophe for Peru,” the Nobel Prize winner told CNN in a taped interview broadcast on Thursday.

Humala and Fujimori both have disapproval ratings of about 50 percent, the worst in the race.

However, they are expected to move onto the second round as a moderate majority of the electorate splinters between three other candidates: Former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo, former Peruvian prime minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and former Lima mayor Luis Castaneda.

Vargas Llosa said he would vote for Toledo, the architect of Peru’s free-trade pact with the US who once led the race, but has since stumbled in polls.

Toledo was the frontrunner for much of the campaign but is now fourth.

THREAT TO DEMOCRACY

Toledo warned voters that neither of his rivals would be good for democracy in Peru.

“Democracy could be at risk,” he told supporters.

He called on Castaneda, Kuczynski and members of the ruling APRA party to form a united front with his Peru Posible party to guarantee that a more moderate candidate makes it to the run-off.

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