'Vote against Fujimori,' urges Peru third-place candidate

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Lima (AFP) - The third-place candidate in Peru's presidential election urged her supporters Monday to vote against controversial frontrunner Keiko Fujimori in a runoff this weekend, giving a grudging but potentially important endorsement to her rival.

Veronika Mendoza, a leftist congresswoman, warned Peru risked returning to the dark days of former president Keiko's father Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuses during his decade in office (1990-2000).

The prospect left her no choice but to reluctantly endorse center-right economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, she said in a video posted online.

"I'm going to vote against Ms Fujimori," Mendoza said.

"To block 'Fujimorism,' the only option is to vote PPK," Kuczynski's initials, the message added.

Peru, one of Latin America's best-performing economies, votes Sunday to pick its president for the next five years, with ight-wing populist Fujimori leading Kuczynski in the polls by some four to seven percentage points.

In the first-round election on April 10, Fujimori took 40 percent of the vote to 21 percent for Kuczynski and 19 percent for Mendoza.

Alberto Fujimori is remembered for presiding over strong economic growth but also for dissolving Congress and waging a scorched-earth campaign to wipe out the communist guerrilla group Shining Path.

Keiko, 41, who would be Peru's first woman president, has sought to distance herself from her father's authoritarian image.

But Mendoza insisted she would bring more of the same.

"The dream of a more just country is threatened by Fujimorism's would-be return," she said.

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