LIMA – Peru’s electoral council said it was considering disqualifying front-runner Keiko Fujimori from next month’s presidential election for improperly distributing cash at a campaign event, just over a week after it tossed her main rival from the race.
In a resolution Friday, the council said there are sufficient grounds to open proceedings against Fujimori and gave her Popular Force party one working day to present counterarguments.
The complaint against the daughter of jailed former strongman Alberto Fujimori stems from a Feb. 14 campaign event during which the candidate was present and money was awarded to the winners of a hip hop music contest. Peruvian law prohibits candidates from giving more than roughly $6 during campaign events.
The announcement by election officials came several days after hundreds of people marched in Lima to protest her candidacy. Some held signs reading “No More Fujimori” — a reference to her father who was convicted of authorizing death squads and corruption during his decade-long rule in the 1990s. One of protesters’ demands was that the electoral council also investigate the Fujimori campaign incident for possible vote-buying.
Keiko Fujimori narrowly lost the 2011 presidential race to current President Ollanta Humala and is now leading in polls ahead of Peru’s April 10 vote.
Earlier in the month, her main rival was disqualified from the race by electoral authorities in a ruling questioned by the European Union and Washington-based Organization of American States. It voided economist Julio Guzman’s candidacy by a vote of 3 to 2, claiming the mechanism by which his party selected him violated its own internal rules.
Guzman refused to accept the ruling, calling it “flagrantly illegal and unconstitutional” in a statement.
Guzman had surged in opinion polls that show him preferred by about 17 percent of voters behind 35 percent for Fujimori. With no candidate expected to win the required majority of votes on April 10, Guzman would have likely faced Fujimori in a June 5 runoff.
No other candidate has been polling above 10 percent — including former two-time President Alan Garcia.
The electoral council has also disqualified candidate Cesar Acuna for handing out cash at a campaign event.
Keiko Fujimori has yet to comment on the council’s decision.