The legal strategy of the Fujimori leader Keiko Fujimori to allege fraud without proof and delay the proclamation of the president who won at the polls, Pedro Castillo, added a new chapter this Wednesday. One of the members of the highest instance of the electoral court resigned after the first ten appeals presented by the lawyers of Fuerza Popular were declared unfounded by three votes against his. The 201 appeals presented seek to annul votes at tables where the rural teacher won.
The second electoral round, held on June 6 with the presence of national and international observers, has been described as transparent. “It was a positive electoral process” without “serious irregularities,” said the OAS mission. The US State Department commented on Monday that the elections “were free, fair, accessible and peaceful, and a model of democracy in the region.” This week, in addition, the Ombudsman, Walter Gutiérrez, said in an interview on the radio that “at this time no one can talk about fraud because it would be irresponsible.”
Three days after the elections, with the help of the main law firms in Lima, the candidate Fujimori – accused of money laundering and criminal organization in the Odebrecht case – presented hundreds of requests for annulment of the voting tables where she won from overwhelmingly the former left-wing union leader and farmer Pedro Castillo. The first instance of the electoral court rejected the requests, as there was no forgery of the signatures of the polling station members, nor their impersonation, as alleged by Fujimori. The lawyers of Fuerza Popular appealed for the second instance of the court to review 200 of those cases.
Hundreds of citizens identified by Fuerza Popular as impersonators or forgers have come out in the media to show their certificates of board members and have demanded an apology for being presented in public as responsible for a crime. This Wednesday, the plenary session of the National Elections Jury reviewed the first ten appeals, which were rejected. At the end of the day, Luis Arce, a member of the court, delivered a letter in which he questioned the decision of his colleagues and resigned from the position.
Arce assured that he wanted to prevent his minority votes from validating what he called “false constitutional deliberations.” The magistrate, who represents the Public Ministry in the highest instance of the National Elections Jury, was the only one who considered that Fuerza Popular could present requests for the nullity of tables after the deadline, which expired on June 9, three days after the elections. .
In his letter, Arce indicates that he irrevocably declines despite the fact that, according to the electoral law, the position is inalienable while the electoral process is underway. In Peru, the full electoral tribunal is responsible for proclaiming the winning president for the change of command to take place on July 28. Pending the deliberations, Pedro Castillo won the elections by more than 40,000 votes according to the National Organism for Electoral Processes.
For a couple of years, the attorney general and a supreme prosecutor have been investigating her colleague Luis Arce for illicit enrichment and equity imbalance and for his links with the White Collars of the Port, the corruption network in the justice system whose head, the Former Supreme Judge César Hinostroza, tried to annul in 2018 the tax investigation for money laundering of Keiko Fujimori. Both files can conclude in constitutional accusations against Arce, which would remain in the hands of the Congress that is installed on July 28.
Around midnight on Wednesday, the National Elections Jury reported on Twitter that it was conducting a legal evaluation of Arce’s letter “that allows immediate measures to be taken to safeguard democracy and to avoid affecting the continuity of the electoral process.”
On Thursday morning, the president of the National Elections Jury, Jorge Luis Salas, issued a resolution suspending Luis Arce and asking the Public Ministry to summon his provisional representative to replace the suspended one. The hearing scheduled for Thursday, in which the plenary session was going to review four appeals, cannot be held until the Prosecutor’s Office responds.
The virtual vice president-elect, Dina Boluarte, pointed out on Twitter that given the imminent failure of the annulment of the minutes, Arce intends to leave without quorum to the plenary session “and to delay the proclamation of Pedro Castillo, evidencing undemocratic practices, lacking in ethics and contrary to the law, which generates criminal responsibility.”
The executive director for the Americas of Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, described the “decline” of Arce as “a frontal attack against the rule of law that puts democracy in check.” Civil society organizations and followers of Pedro Castillo have called a demonstration in front of the National Elections Jury for Thursday morning, and a march on Saturday, calling for a national strike if there is no proclamation according to the official results of the ONPE.
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