Peru: Fujimori/Toledo dispute delayed elections

soil_ride soilride at
Sun May 21 01:25:54 MDT 2000

Peru's president refuses to delay runoff election

May 20, 2000
Web posted at: 10:23 p.m. EDT (0223 GMT)

>From staff and wire reports

Lima, Peru -- President Alberto Fujimori is not budging on the date of the
runoff election, despite international pressure and his challenger's refusal to

In a radio interview Saturday, Fujimori said the May 28 vote will not be

The Organization of American States, the U.S. State Department, and Fujimori's
challenger, Alejandro Toledo -- all of whom have questioned the legitimacy of
the vote-counting mechanism in Peru and want the runoff pushed back to June 18
-- are not qualified to dictate a delay in the election, he said. He accused
Toledo of confusing voters and attempting to destabilize Peru by calling for a
general boycott of the election without officially withdrawing from it.

Toledo was on the same station half an hour before, saying he would not
participate in the scheduled vote.

But he said his party would continue campaigning "against fraud and seeking a
new, reasonable date to allow the introduction of changes for a clean election."
The runoff was set after Fujimori, on April 9, narrowly missed the majority of
votes necessary to claim an unprecedented third five-year term.

The final results showed that about 1 million more ballots were cast than there
were voters. Toledo blames the discrepancy on computer flaws that, he says, have
to be fixed before a runoff is held.

"Changing the date is absolutely necessary to have free and democratic elections
in Peru," said Toledo spokesman Diego Garcia Cayan.

Fujimori said tabulating the upcoming vote would require little more than a hand
calculator because it only involved two presidential candidates. The April 9
general election included nine presidential hopefuls, as well as their
congressional slates, for a total of 1,627 candidates.

Rafael Roncogliolo, head of Peruvian Citizen Group, "Transparencia," is in favor
of a delay. "We have to demand respect for our right to vote and we have to be
able to defend our votes," he said

Toledo said he planned to mobilize peaceful demonstrations across the nation to
pressure Fujimori into changing the date.

If the election is not delayed, the challenger has vowed not to take part in it.
Fujimori has said Toledo's name will nevertheless appear on the ballot, but the
challenger's camp contends that would invalidate the election.

"Of course, that election won't be a constitutional election, because there is
no way in which a person that doesn't want to be a candidate can be forced to do
so," said Garcia Cayan.

Polls show Toledo and Fujimori tied in voter preference. Tens of thousands of
people have rallied for both candidates, producing several violent
confrontations in recent days.

Mexico City Bureau Chief Harris Whitbeck and The Associated Press contributed to
this report.

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