Left-wing nationalist Humala wins Peru's presidential runoff

Left-wing nationalist Humala wins Peru's presidential runoff

Left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala was set to be the next president of Peru, as rival Keiko Fujimori conceded defeat Monday following a runoff election, dpa reported.

Humala got 51.5 per cent of the ballots to beat right-wing populist Fujimori with 48.5 per cent in Sunday's runoff, Peruvian electoral authorities said based on more than 90 per cent of the preliminary official vote count.

Humala, 48, told thousands of supporters late Sunday in Lima that he will seek to strengthen social inclusion in rapidly growing Peru without harming investment.

"My commitment rests with the Peruvian people," he said.

Humala stressed he was willing to make compromises and would govern for all Peruvians.

Fujimori appeared equally conciliatory a few hours later.

"I salute the victory of Ollanta Humala. I acknowledge his triumph," she said in a brief speech.

"It is time to build bridges and launch dialogue. The great winner must be Peru," she said.

Fujimori, who is only 36 and is the daughter of former Peruvian president-turned dictator Alberto Fujimori, said she plans to congratulate Humala in person at his campaign headquarters at a Lima hotel.

The financial establishment was apparently worried about the election result. The Lima stock exchange fell 12.51 per cent before trading was suspended until Tuesday. This was the Peruvian market's largest drop since the global economic crisis broke out in October 2008.

In the past, Humala had been very close to Venezuela's left-wing populist President Hugo Chavez. Although he has since moderated his discourse and put forward former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as his role model, many remain unconvinced.

Peruvian financial analysts have stressed that Humala needs to name a finance minister and the rest of his economic team in order to calm down the markets.

"Humala's victory worries investors. The markets' reaction has been extremely harsh," analyst Luis Felipe Arizmendi told Peruvian television.

Local media pronounced Humala's victory as certain just minutes after polling stations closed. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera went as far as to congratulate Humala even before the first preliminary official results were announced.

Humala's followers celebrated in cities including Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo and Iquitos.

Some of his high-profile supporters also commented soon after polling stations closed on what they saw as a sure win.

Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature last year, was pleased.

Vargas Llosa once described a presidential run-off scenario pitting Fujimori against Humala as a choice "between AIDS and terminal cancer." However, he went on to campaign for Humala ahead of the runoff, deeming him the lesser of two evils.

"I have taken part in this campaign because Peru could not go back to a dictatorship," Vargas Llosa told Peruvian radio from Spain, after hearing that exit polls put Humala ahead.

In 1990, Vargas Llosa lost Peru's presidential election to Alberto Fujimori, whose rule until 2000 was marked by suspensions of democratic liberties, human rights abuses and corruption, but also economic growth.

"Democracy has won," said former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo.

Toledo, a centrist, ran for president in the first round, but later endorsed Humala for the runoff. Late Sunday, he celebrated Humala's "unquestionable triumph."

Both Vargas Llosa and Toledo called for reconciliation at the end of a very polarized campaign.

If his win is confirmed by official results, Humala is to be sworn in on July 28 with a five-year mandate. He is likely to have trouble governing a country of 29 million people with a poverty rate of nearly 35 per cent, despite annual economic growth close to 9 per cent.

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