- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

LIMA, Peru Alejandro Toledo, who last year withdrew from highly suspect elections won by now-exiled President Alberto Fujimori, yesterday became the country's first citizen of native Indian ancestry to finish first in a presidential election. But he failed to get a majority of the votes.
He will face a runoff election, likely against former President Alan Garcia, who ran second with 25.7 percent of the votes, according to results announced after 12 percent of the vote was counted. Conservative candidate Flores Lourdes was third with 24 percent of the votes.
Mr. Toledo won 36.4 percent of the 14.9 million votes cast, according to Fernando Tuesta, head of the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE).
The early results mirrored exit polls released earlier in the evening by Apoyo, Peru's most prestigious polling firm.
Election observers, including former President Jimmy Carter, the Organization of American States and the European Union said the voting was fair and free of the pressure by the military and by other government institutions that spoiled voting in 2000.
Mr. Fujimori won a third five-year term last year in elections marred by fraud and dirty tricks. But he fled in November amid mounting corruption scandals involving Vladimiro Montesinos, his intelligence chief, and he now lives in self-imposed exile in Japan, his ancestral homeland.
Mr. Carter described last year's election as "fraudulent" in an interview published in yesterday's El Comercio newspaper.
The State Department said last year's election was "obviously flawed."
Some Peruvians said in interviews outside voting centers they feared Mr. Toledo and his Belgian-born wife, Eliane Karp, were exacerbating ethnic tensions.
"I don't like Toledo because he promotes violence and the fragmentation of society along ethnic and racial lines," said Mariana Jimenez, 21, a student.
Mr. Toledo, who has a doctorate from Stanford University and has been a visiting scholar at Harvard, is a "cholo," the Peruvian term for a person of mixed Indian and white blood. He has capitalized on his rise from shoeshine boy to an economist with the World Bank and on the resentment toward the European-descended elite that has long dominated politics in Peru.
Mrs. Karp, arriving with Mr. Toledo at a polling station in a school, said in an interview that her husband was not trying to "fragment" Peru.
"This country has been fragmented for 500 years," she said.
"The difference is, we try to show it. We plan to deal with it through positive discrimination for campesinos," she said, referring to the millions of poor, rural Indians and mixed-race Peruvians living with little access to modern amenities.
"Development of infrastructure, education, health and agriculture for them was never done before," she said.
Moments later Mr. Toledo was swept into the school courtyard in a whirlwind of journalists, followers and security officials who knocked several of their colleagues to the ground before the candidate made a few statements, voted, waved to enthusiastic followers and left for home.
Standing in the courtyard was the head of the Organization of American States observer mission, Eduardo Stein, who praised the election process.
"Last year [when Mr. Fujimori was president], there was formidable political control of the electoral machinery, the judiciary and the press," Mr. Stein said in a brief interview. "This year there is a wide and flexible atmosphere in the media, without restrictions.
"We have not witnessed the kinds of smears we had in the campaign last year against all opposition candidates," he said.
However Mr. Toledo has faced accusations that he fathered a daughter 13 years ago and has not taken responsibility for her. He also has been accused of having once tested positive for drugs in a urine sample after being hospitalized following what he said was a kidnapping by political enemies.
Miss Flores also faced a taint because some of her advisers are former allies of Mr. Fujimori.
Mr. Fujimori, a Peruvian engineer of Japanese ancestry, came to power around 1990 as Peru was reeling from attacks by two bloody guerrilla groups the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru.
Mr. Fujimori brought both rebel groups to bay, had their leaders arrested and crushed their movements after applying tough military measures.
Even his critics credit him with restoring security. But the excesses of his intelligence chief, Mr. Montesinos, in suppressing the opposition and the press and in corrupting public institutions led to Mr. Fujimori's downfall.
Yesterday, Peruvian television aired more of the secret videotapes made by Mr. Montesinos, who is hiding abroad, as he bribed officials and managed a shadow government behind Mr. Fujimori's presidential office.
Miss Flores herself, however, an unmarried and religious woman who keeps a shrine for worship in her garden, was seen by her followers as super clean and honest.
Mr. Garcia, who bankrupted the country when he was president in the 1980s and tried to stop paying the country's foreign debts, fled abroad and only returned home after Mr. Fujimori's fall.
He has aimed his campaign mainly at young people who cannot remember the days of his ruinous economic policies.

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