The Associated Press April 10, 2011, 10:38PM ET

Leftist ex-officer vs Fujimori in Peru runoff

An anti-establishment military man who promises to redistribute Peru's wealth won the most votes in Sunday's presidential election and will face the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori in a runoff, unofficial results showed.

Keiko Fujimori, 35, could end up beating Ollanta Humala in the June 5 runoff as he was the only candidate who advocated altering Peru's free market-oriented status quo by giving the state a greater role in the economy.

The ex-army lieutenant colonel also won the first round in Peru's 2006 presidential vote but was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent by Alan Garcia in a runoff widely seen as a rebuff to Hugo Chavez, who had openly backed him.

This time, Humala distanced himself from the leftist Venezuelan president, while Fujimori backed away from vows to pardon her father she made two years ago when he was convicted of approving death squad killings and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa had called a runoff between the extremes that are Humala and Keiko Fujimori "a choice between AIDS and terminal cancer" given perceptions of their anti-democratic tendencies.

Unofficial results representing 100 percent of the vote released by the nonprofit electoral watchdog Transparencia gave Humala 31.7 percent in Sunday's election -- well short of the simple majority needed to win outright.

Keiko Fujimori -- whose father Peruvians alternately adore and vilify -- got 23.3 percent trailed by Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a 72-year-old former World Bank economist and investment banker, with 18.3 percent.

In fourth was Alejandro Toledo, Peru's president from 2001-2006, with 15.9 percent. Former Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda was fifth with 9.9 percent. Pre-election polls indicated both men would defeat Humala in a second round while Kuczynski and Fujimori would have a harder time.

Humala has spooked foreign investors by promising to divert natural gas exports to the domestic market and obtain greater royalties from foreign investors in Peru's mineral wealth.

"Today we're celebrating because of the Peruvian people's expressing that they want a great transformation," he said Sunday in a victory speech.

That's just fine with Federico Sandoval, a 60-year-old veterinarian in Lima's sprawling lower class Villa El Salvador district.

Sandoval said he voted for Humala because the corruption that has long been a hallmark of Peruvian politics -- and that many believe worsened under President Garcia -- needs to stop.

"In order to improve the situation there need to be changes and they should be radical," Sandoval said.

Politics in this resource-rich Andean nation have been volatile since the 1980s, when its discredited political parties all but dissolved.

George Mason University political scientist Jo-Marie Burt said Sunday's outcome puts Peru on "a really terrible road and I think it shows how weak the whole political system really is."

Keiko Fujimori constantly invoked her father during the campaign, running on his legacy of delivering essential services to Peru's forgotten backwater and of being tough on crime. It's a potent message in a nation 30 million where one in three live on less than $3 a day and lack running water.

During her victory speech from the terrace of a downtown hotel, jubilant supporters changed "Chino. Chino. Chino," her father's popular nickname. She thanked him and sought to dispel concerns of a return to authoritarian rule.

"We are going to work my dear friends with absolute respect for democracy, press freedom, human rights and the rule of law," she said.

Peru is a top exporter of copper, gold and silver, commodities whose rising prices have helped fuel economic growth averaging 7 percent during Garcia's tenure. But it is a growth that has hardly trickled down to the poor.

Political analyst Leon Trahtemberg said Sunday's outcome reflected the failure of President Garcia's "triumphalism" in obtaining major foreign investment while "forgetting to attend to the poor."

Eliminated candidate Toledo said voters simply "expressed their rage ... at having economic growth without the distribution of the benefits of that growth."

Peru ranks 13th out of 17 countries in the region in terms of citizen access to social services, according to a new World Bank report. In the country's rural highlands, where both Humala and Fujimori ran strongly, 66 percent of Peruvians live in poverty, half in extreme poverty.

Kuczynski, a German immigrant's son who was economics and prime minister under Toledo, climbed into contention in the campaign's final weeks. But the perception of him as the candidate of big foreign capital hurt him.

Toledo had led in the polls until late March, when Humala overtook him. His voters also defected to Kuczynski.

Humala, 48, made promises similar to those of Keiko Fujimori: free nursery school and public education, state-funded school breakfasts and lunches, a big boost in the minimum wage, and pensions for all beginning at age 65.

He says he would respect international treaties and contracts, but many Peruvians don't believe him.

Humala, who launched a bloodless, short-lived revolt against Alberto Fujimori just before the latter fled into exile in 2000, advocates rewriting the constitution, as Chavez and his leftist allies in Bolivia and Ecuador have done. He says it will make it easier to enact reforms -- vowing not to seek re-election, as Chavez and the Bolivian and Ecuadorean leaders have.

Fujimori has a rock-solid, unwavering constituency thanks to her father's defeat of the Maoist-inspired Shining Path insurgency, taming of hyperinflation in the 1990s and social agenda.

"Because of him we are free. Because of him we're at peace," said Luz Montesino, a 60-year-old bakery owner who voted at a school built during his presidency.

Like other Fujimori voters, Montesino was not bothered by the dark, authoritarian side of the Fujimori legacy -- including Alberto's shutting down of Congress in 1992. Nor do Keiko Fujimori backers seem concerned by critics' fears Keiko would pardon her father, and he'll call the shots in her presidency.

Toledo voter Humberto Mejia expects the worst if Keiko Fujimori is elected.

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," said Mejia, a lawyer. "All the corrupt and drug traffickers will be freed (from prison). All those guys are getting out."

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Associated Press Writers Carla Salazar and Franklin Briceno contributed to this report.


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