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In Peru, A Tense Wait For Final Election Results

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

U.S. officials are insisting a recent presidential election was free, fair, accessible and peaceful, despite claims by one candidate to the contrary. It may sound familiar to voters here in the U.S., but this is happening in Peru, where its citizens anxiously wait for the final results of the election. The leading candidate, Pedro Castillo, has had a narrow lead of about 44,000 votes. The runner-up, Keiko Fujimori, is claiming fraud. She's seeking to have tens of thousands of votes thrown out. Adding to the tension, allegations of harassment by Fujimori's supporters directed towards electoral authorities and even journalists covering the events.

To learn more about where things go from here in Peru, we called up journalist Pao Ugaz in Lima, Peru. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

PAO UGAZ: Hi.

CORNISH: Can you tell us why Keiko Fujimori is claiming that there has been fraud? Do these claims - are they founded in anything?

UGAZ: According to the institution that counted votes, win the election with 40,053 votes. And that isn't going to change. So no, these fraud claims doesn't have any foundation.

CORNISH: Things are getting tense in Peru. There's been these reports, as we mentioned, of Fujimori supporters harassing public officials and some journalists. What have you witnessed?

UGAZ: Well, the followers of Keiko Fujimori have organized to go to the palace of the head of the electoral authorities to harass and insult them. They harass not only against me, but also include other colleagues like Jacqie Fowks (ph) from El Pais. So I think the violence against us and other authorities are increasing.

CORNISH: What do these candidates stand for? I mean, we've spoken a lot about Fujimori. But in terms of Pedro Castillo, what are the kind of themes of that campaign that sort of put this candidate so far in the lead?

UGAZ: I see it's a clash of classes because Pedro Castillo is the son of farmers who grew up in poverty. His motto is (speaking non-English language), which means no more poors in a rich country. In the other side, Keiko Sofia Fujimori is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is condemned for corruption and human rights violations. And he's in jail since 2007. This is Keiko Fujimori's third attempt to be elected president. Her third attempt to consider them to the president, according to the analysts, is not the need to become president to rule the country. It's to avoid prison because she face right now an accusation for money laundering and leading a criminal organization.

CORNISH: When will it be known the final results of the election? What's the next step in this process?

UGAZ: Yes. If the president is not formally proclaimed before July 28, according to the Peruvian law, a new election must be called. And in this limbo, the new president of the congress temporarily assumes the president of the country, and he has to hold new elections.

CORNISH: Pao Ugaz is a journalist and correspondent in Lima, Peru, for the Spanish newspaper ABC. Thank you for your time.

UGAZ: Have a good day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.