LIMA – On March 12, thousands took to the streets to demonstrate in favour of disqualifying presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori from Peru’s April 10 elections. Fujimori is the front-runner for the upcoming elections, but has been accused of ‘buying votes’ at rallies along with a running mate.

Fujimori has been accused of handing out ‘prizes’ of around 100 dollars to some people attending her political rallies. If found guilty, she will be disqualified as a candidate according to the Political Parties Act, which limits any money or gifts given by a candidate to 5 dollars. Fujimori has called these allegations “absurd” and denied any truth behind them.

However, it is not the first time the topic of ‘buying votes’ has emerged in this year’s election. Former Governor and fourth-place candidate, César Acuña, has already been disqualified from the elections over the same allegations of handing out money.

The Electoral Board has also come under scrutiny, after the disqualification of a further candidate, Fujimori’s main opponent, Julio Guzmán, due to technical irregularities that deemed his candidacy “inadmissible.” Guzmán has said that his disqualification was “part of a corrupt system” and that it was a political move to swing more votes to Fujimori.

Keiko Fujimori, who inherited a large voting stock due to her father, former President Alejandro Fujimori, was the runner up in the 2011 election where she lost in a second round of voting. Her father is credited by many for ending a 20 year long battle with rebels and for improving Peru’s economy.

Alberto Fujimori, who was in power from 1990-2000, is currently serving a 25 year jail sentence for corruption and human rights abuses. His convictions include commanding a death squad to commit a massacre that resulted in the death of 25 people as well as trying to to lower birth rates and stimulate the economy by forcing more than 200,000 women and thousands of men to be sterilised.

 – Paul Carlsen, Correspondent (South America)