Peru Presidential Front-Runner May Be Barred Over Prize Moneyby
Fujimori risks becoming third candidate banned in past month
Former congresswoman is leading polls ahead of April 10 vote
Keiko Fujimori, the front-runner in Peru’s presidential race, may be barred from running in next month’s vote, an electoral body said just days after two of her biggest rivals were also disqualified.
The Lima Centro 1 electoral board said late Friday it sees grounds for initiating proceedings to exclude Fujimori, following allegations she broke election law prohibiting candidates from giving out money during their campaigns.
Fujimori has had at least 30 percent support in presidential polls for the past two years, and her disqualification would throw the race wide open three weeks before the April 10 vote. The electoral board has already this month excluded two of Fujimori’s rivals, Julio Guzman and Cesar Acuna -- Acuna for donating money during his campaign.
The body cited a report from the national electoral board this week that said Fujimori participated in a public event in Lima last month, reading out the winners of a break- dance competition. Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party previously donated to the organization that hosted the event and a member of her party gave out the prize money, according to the report.
Speaking to reporters late Friday, Fujimori denied breaking any law and said the electoral board report indicates she didn’t give out money during the event. The Lima board will formally notify Fuerza Popular of the proceedings on Saturday and the party will then have 24 hours to present its defense, Fujimori said.
Under an electoral law that took effect in January, candidates can be expelled for donating cash, food or goods directly or via a third party during their campaigns.
Fujimori had 32 percent voter support in an Ipsos Peru poll from March 5-10, less than the 50 percent needed to win outright and avoid a runoff on June 5. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had 14 percent while Alfredo Barnechea and Veronika Mendoza each had 9 percent and Alan Garcia 6 percent. Ipsos questioned 1,851 people and the poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.