April 11, 2006

Peru’s Garcia leads Flores for runnoff spot

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - Leftist former president Alan Garcia
pulled farther ahead of pro-business rival Lourdes Flores on
Tuesday in the battle for the second runoff spot in Peru's
presidential election.

With more than 83 percent of the vote counted, nationalist
former army commander Ollanta Humala held his lead in the race
with 30.84 percent. He appeared poised to advance to a May or
early June runoff since no candidate won a majority.

Garcia, whose 1985-1990 rule ended in hyperinflation and
surging violence by Shining Path rebels, was second with 24.62
percent, a day after overtaking Flores, a pro-business
conservative. Flores, a lawyer who international investors see
as the best candidate for Peru's $75 billion economy, was third
with 23.71 percent.

Pre-election polls showed Humala would face a tight runoff
against Garcia and was likely to lose to Flores in a second
round of balloting.

Election officials worked to tally votes for a third day as
ballots were collected from remote Andean and jungle areas and
Peruvians living abroad.

Garcia, 56, saw his standing rise in the final polls ahead
of Sunday's vote as support ebbed for Flores, 46, who has
struggled to connect with the poor.

Election authorities said it could take up to 20 days to
determine the second-place finisher. The runoff must take place
within 30 days after the final official result is announced.

A narrow finish also could lead to legal challenges of the
ballot count.