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Peru declares Pedro Castillo president after weeks of electoral dispute

By Zarrin Ahmed
Peru declares Pedro Castillo president after weeks of electoral dispute
Supporters of Pedro Castillo celebrate his election victory in Lima, Peru, on Monday night. Photo by Paolo Aguilar/EPA-EFE

July 20 (UPI) -- Pedro Castillo, a former schoolteacher and union leader, has been declared president-elect of Peru after weeks of ballot counting in a close runoff election.

Castillo was declared the winner by Peruvian election officials late Monday. The process was held up as officials investigated claims of fraud by opponent Keiko Fujimori.

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Castillo will be sworn in on the 200th anniversary of Peru's independence on July 28. He succeeds President Francisco Sagasti.

The National Jury of Elections' formal declaration followed an unprecedented six-week delay since voters headed to the polls on June 6.

Officials determined that Castillo, 51, beat Fujimori with 50.1% of the vote and a margin of about 44,000 votes, in a country with 33 million people.

The electoral dispute spurred thousands of supporters of both candidates into the streets of Lima in dueling protests.

The election marked Fujimori's third straight failed presidential bid. She asked officials to throw out nearly 200,000 votes in areas that heavily supported Castillo, alleging ballot irregularities.

Fujimori said during a televised speech Monday that she would accept the results out of respect for the law, but would continue calling Castillo's regime "illegitimate."

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Castillo, whose parents were peasant farmers, ran on an anti-establishment platform and promoted the slogan, "No more poor people in a rich country."

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