Perú: Toledo abandona la campaña electoral

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Il candidato dell´opposizione, Alejandro Toledo, ha annunciato ieri che
non parteciperà al turno di ballottaggio delle elezioni presidenziali in
Perù, previsto per il 28 maggio prossimo. Secondo Toledo, manca il tempo
necessario per correggere l´attuale sistema elettorale, considerato iniquo.
Toledo ha domandato di posticipare le elezioni al 18 giugno.

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LIMA, May 18 (Reuters) – The opposition candidate in Peru´s presidential
election, Alejandro Toledo, refused on Thursday to take part in the run-off
race if it is held on May 28 — its scheduled date — saying there was not
enough time to resolve unfair conditions.

Toledo demanded an election delay, throwing into uncertainty the future of
the run-off vote with President Alberto Fujimori.

The election has faced fears of fraud, which provoked the Organization of
American States to warn it could withdraw its backing for the vote.

Fujimori, who was governed this nation of 25 million people since his first
election in 1990, has flatly refused to change the date despite similar
calls from election monitors for a delay due to irregularities such as
bug-plagued computers.

Toledo said he had asked the National Election Board, the country´s top
election body, to delay the vote until June 18 to give enough time for
election monitors to ensure a fair process.

He also insisted in improvements in the electoral process, including
greater access to television and a halt to alleged use of state handouts to
the poor to help Fujimori´s campaign, as a condition to participate in the

«I am here to tell you that Peru Possible (Toledo´s party) will not
participate in the May 28 elections,» Toledo, the son of an Andean peasant
who is running neck-and-neck with Fujimori in polls, told a packed news

«We cannot change the date at this stage in the game,» Fujimori told
reporters while on a campaign tour in the southern Andes only hours before
Toledo´s statement

A sudden spurt in support for Toledo, a free marketeer with populist
touches, robbed Fujimori of an outright win in a first round on April 9
amid opposition street protests sparked by fears of fraud after a slow vote
count and computer glitches.

Election monitors from OAS said on Thursday it would withdraw backing for
Peru´s run-off vote if the government did not resolve irregularities in the
election process by Monday, citing problems with counting computers and a
lack of training of election officials.

Echoing Toledo, a key OAS demand is a postponement in the May 28 elections
to allow more time to deal with irregularities and logistical problems,

If the OAS withdrew support, it could strip international legitimacy from
the elections. A Toledo withdrawal from the elections would mean that
legally the vote would still have to be held, according to the OAS.

«If the irregularities, inconsistencies and lack of fairness continue in
this second round … the OAS election monitors will not be able to endorse
the electoral process,» the monitors for the region´s top diplomatic body
said in a statement.

Toledo has said state handouts to the poor are being abused and media
coverage manipulated to benefit the incumbent, whose government has one of
the worst rights records in the region.


The OAS report listed a string of needed improvements, including computer
software and training of thousands of vote counters, which the opposition
say are essential to avoid fraud.

Disorganization is also bedeviling vote preparations. Two-hundred officials
have just started training 500,000 Peruvians who will act as vote counters
and new software has still not been fully tested, vote monitor sources say.

Rights organizations have received allegations government officials have
threatened to cut off state aid to soup kitchens whose members voted for
Toledo in the first round. The kitchens give daily meals to hundreds of
thousands of poor Peruvians.

Peru faced a full-blown political crisis in April after monitors and the
United States called for a run-off election even before all the first round
votes were counted after computer glitches caused a slow vote count,
sparking fraud fears.

To the international community´s relief, Fujimori fell about 20,000 votes
short of an outright win, forcing him to a run-off with Toledo, who led
street protests against alleged fraud during the four-day vote count.

The president, popular for reviving a moribund economy and defeating
leftist rebels during his two terms, won 49.87 percent of the vote on April
9 against Toledo´s 40.24 percent.

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