Peruvians take to the streets over vote

·2-min read

Thousands of Peruvians supporting socialist Pedro Castillo and right-wing rival Keiko Fujimori have taken to the streets amid swirling uncertainty over the result of a tight June 6 presidential election that has been held up by legal challenges.

Castillo supporters on Saturday marched in downtown Lima toward Plaza San Martin, a block from the headquarters of the electoral jury, with giant banners and photos of the socialist candidate, calling for his apparent election win to be confirmed.

A few blocks away, thousands of others supporting Fujimori paraded with Peruvian flags and banners that read "no to fraud", arriving at the Plaza Bolognesi, where a stage had been set up ahead of the expected arrival of the conservative.

Castillo holds a slender 44,000-vote lead over Fujimori with all ballots counted. But his rival has sought to disqualify votes, largely in rural areas that backed the leftist, making claims of fraud with little evidence.

Castillo's Free Peru party has denied the allegations of fraud while international election observers have said the vote was carried out cleanly.

In Fujimori's march were members of various right and centre-right parties, as well as retired military personnel who have backed her fraud claims. Many had banners saying "no to communism", a criticism they often aim at Castillo.

In the rival camp, many wore the same wide-brimmed hats Castillo has used in the campaign. Some wore outfits from the country's Andean regions and danced, while others carried whips as used by rural "ronderos", or civil police.

The already tense election process was plunged into disarray this week after one of the four magistrates on the jury reviewing contested ballots quit after clashing with the other officials over requests to nullify votes.

On Saturday the electoral jury swore in a replacement to allow the process to restart, key to restoring stability in the Andean nation, which has been rattled by the tight vote.

The election jury will restart its work reviewing contested ballots on Monday. It must complete the review before an official result can be announced.

The polarised election has deeply divided Peruvians, with poorer rural voters rallying behind Castillo and wealthier urban voters from Lima supporting Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

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