April 3, 2006

Another Fujimori seems headed for victory in Peru

By Patricia Zengerle

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - The daughter of disgraced former
Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori looks likely to win a seat
in Congress this weekend that she intends to use to try to
clear her father's name.

Polls show that Keiko Fujimori, who acted as first lady for
her father when she was just 19, is the most popular
congressional candidate from Lima and would likely win one of
the 35 seats from the capital. The legislature has 120 seats.

Alberto Fujimori, who could spend his life in prison if he
is extradited from Chile and convicted, is charged with
corruption and with authorizing death squad killings. He denies
all charges.

His daughter, Keiko Fujimori, a charismatic 30-year-old,
would receive 14.3 percent of votes for Congress in the April 9
election, enough to make victory likely given the size of the
pool of candidates, according to a recent poll by Peru's
respected CPI agency.

There are a record 2,590 candidates running for Congress.
Polls show the pro-Fujimori Alliance for the Future winning 15,
which would make it the fourth-largest party in the
legislature. A significant pro-Fujimori bloc in what is
expected to be a fragmented Congress could make it harder for
Peru to prosecute the ex-president.

The central campaign platform of Alliance for the Future is
to bring Fujimori back to Peru "to prove his innocence" and
allow him to enter political life again.

Party spokesman Carlos Raffo said one of Keiko Fujimori's
first actions in Congress would be to seek to revoke the ban on
her father's holding public office and to drop the charges
against him.

"In Congress, our mission will be to guarantee the return
of Alberto Fujimori through the front door," he said.

Martha Chavez, Fujimori's anointed presidential candidate,
is given little chance of victory, at about 7 percent.

Fujimori fled Peru in 2000 after his 10-year government was
toppled by a huge corruption scandal.

He has been detained in Chile on an international arrest
warrant since November, when he arrived from Japan to run again
for president of Peru, planning to campaign from Santiago.

That project backfired when Peru's electoral board blocked
his candidacy because he is banned from holding public office
until 2011, also putting a stop to his weekly radio shows.

Peru has said it expects Chile to rule on his extradition
as early as June.

Fujimori is popular with many Peruvians for eliminating
hyperinflation and defeating the Shining Path rebel movement.
But many complain his anti-terrorism methods were too draconian
and he trampled over human rights, while government corruption
flourished under his watch.

(Additional reporting by Monica Vargas in Santiago, Chile)