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
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?