May 21, 2006

Garcia maintains lead over Humala in Peru run-off

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) - Ex-President Alan Garcia maintained
his lead over retired army commander Ollanta Humala in the race
for Peru's presidency, a poll showed on Sunday.

Garcia, who is seen as the more business-friendly candidate
despite his 1985-1990 government that left Peru in economic
ruin, has 56 percent of voter support in the June 4 run-off,
versus 44 percent for Humala, the Apoyo poll said.

The poll, which was commissioned by one of Peru's
most-watched TV stations, America, was unchanged compared to a
week ago.

Humala and Garcia held a televised debate on Sunday night
that political analysts said neither candidate won.

A quick poll on America's Web site
( gave victory to Garcia.

Both candidates promise jobs and a better life for the half
of Peruvians who are poor and both pledge to rewrite contracts
with foreign investors and redistribute more of Peru's
mining-generated wealth.

But many voters are uninspired by the candidates.

Middle-class Peruvians see Humala, who is most popular
among the Andean and jungle poor, as a radical whose
nationalist platform could endanger the country's $75 billion

But many have not forgotten Garcia's first presidential
term, which produced hyperinflation, food shortages and rising
rebel Shining Path violence. Garcia's supporters say he has
learned from his mistakes.

The candidacy of Humala, who won the first round in April
but failed to achieve the 50 percent level of voter support to
win outright, has been hurt by the strong support of
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez because the anti-U.S. leader
is generally unpopular in Peru, analysts say.

The poll's methodology was not immediately available but
Apoyo typically has a margin of error of 2.2 percent.