Peru's president poised for big first-round win

FROM PHIL DAVISON

Latin America Correspondent

Alberto Fujimori, dubbed "The Chinaman" when he emerged from obscurity five years ago, is likely to overwhelm Javier Perez de Cuellar, former United Nations secretary-general, in tomorrow's Peruvian presidential elections but could face a closer run-off in June.

Mr Fujimori, 56, the son of Japanese immigrants, is tipped to win at least 47 per cent of the vote, double that of his main rival, but he needs 50 per cent to avoid a run-off, in which Mr Perez de Cuellar, 75, could garner wider anti-Fujimori sentiment. Even if Mr Fujimori wins a second five-year term, polls suggest he will lose control of parliament but that is unlikely to worry the man who shut it three years ago when it stood in the way of his economic and anti-terrorist policies.

"I know how to get things done," was his unofficial slogan as he stomped around the provinces and even got on his bike to surprise residents of Lima suburbs. His critics retorted: "So do all dictators."

With populist language, Mr Fujimori, a little-known agricultural engineer, swept aside the writer Mario Vargas Llosa in the 1990 election but provoked world-wide criticism when he dismissed parliament in April 1992 to impose emergency measures over the economy and to counter the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrillas. After the arrest later that year of the guerrilla chief, Abimael Guzman, popular support saw the election of a new, pro- Fujimori parliament, which conveniently passed a law allowing the President to run again.

When Mr Fujimori's wife, Susana Higuchi, threatened last year to run against him, parliament passed the "Susana law", barring spouses of sitting president from running. Mrs Higuchi said she would file for divorce but her husband's friends on the National Electoral Board rejected her presidential candidacy on convoluted technicalities. When the former First Lady later fainted during a hunger strike, the President was seen on television the same day dining on seafood and white wine. It did not seem to harm his popularity.

Peru's border war with Ecuador earlier this year, which Ecuador said was blatant election campaigning, appears to have done the Peruvian incumbent little good. His poll ratings have slipped, despite nightly images of him wading across jungle rivers with his troops, due to a perception that he exaggerated Peruvian successes.

Mr Fujimori is credited with getting the economy on the rails, slashing inflation and crushing Shining Path. Despite the recent arrest of a former Guzman aide, Shining Path is not dead. It stepped up attacks last month and has tried to disrupt tomorrow's election by blocking distribution of voting papers in some provinces. The anti-terrorism police say they expect "major attacks" by the guerrillas.

Mr Perez de Cuellar, winding up his campaign in Cuzco, called Mr Fujimori autocratic and spoke of "liberating Peru" and of "authentic democracy". The President had unfairly used his position to campaign: ``It's as if you're in a 200-yard race and somebody gets a 50-yard start.''

And Mr Perez de Cuellar has another problem, as a Lima-based European diplomat said: "Fujimori speaks the language of the people. Perez de Cuellar spent a decade [at the UN] perfecting the art of saying nothing in the most elaborate language possible."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Life and Style
Visitors look at a drone equipped with cameras on a police car at the Gitex Technology week in Dubai
tech
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
News
i100(More than you think)
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
News
i100
News
people
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Executive - Software

£20000 - £25000 per annum + 55,000 OTE + benifits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Software Sa...

Argyll Scott International: 2x Service Desk Analyst

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...

Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton; £400p/d

£400 - £420 per day: Langley James : IT Project Manager; 6 month FTC; Brighton...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?