Peru holds general elections

Lima, April 11 (IANS) On Sunday morning, 5,312 polling stations opened up across Peru, awaiting about 23 million Peruvians eligible to decide on their next president, vice president, 130 congressmen and five representatives to the Andean Parliament.

All those elected will take their seats on July 28 for a five-year term, Xinhua reported.

The great majority of polling booths were open on time, although local media reported some delays due to the late arrival of electoral officials.

The government was clear that any officials that arrived late, causing delays in the voting, would receive fines and would be prohibited from travelling outside Peru until they paid up.

Before voting began and after it closes in Peru, the Peruvian communities around the world, from the US to New Zealand, will also be able to cast their votes with the ballot boxes, which will then be flown to Lima for counting.

The voting process will last eight hours and will close at 4:00 pm local time. A preliminary result will come out at around 9:00 pm local time, once an estimated 30 percent of votes have been counted. The complete and final results will be announced on Monday.

Sixteen teams of international observers, comprising more than 500 people, are present across the country, including teams from the Organisation of American States, the European Union, and the Andean Community.

Furthermore, over 100,000 police officers and 50,000 soldiers have been deployed to guard polling stations and strategic areas across Peru.

Of the ten presidential candidates, it is thought that none of them will secure the 50 percent needed to win the presidency outright, forcing a run-off in June, between the top two finishers.

It is expected that Keiko Fujimori, leader of the Popular Force party, will win the first round, while two of her rivals, Pedro Kuczynski of Peruvians for Change, and Veronika Mendoza of the Broad Front Party, are in a bitter fight for the second place.

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