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The BBC Peter Greste
"Mr Toledo¿s final victory is far from assured"
 real 28k

Presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo
"The winner was really Peru"
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The BBC's Claire Marshall
Speaks to Alejandro Toledo's campaign manager
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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Run-off to decide Peru president
Toledo supporter
The Toledo campaign is gearing up for a second round
As Peruvian officials continue to count the votes from Sunday's presidential election, the main candidates are gearing up for a second round.

With more than half the ballots counted, pre-poll favourite Alejandro Toledo is on course to win the most votes, but not the 51% needed to avoid a run-off.

Partial results
Toledo: 36%
Garcia: 26%
Flores: 24%
Mr Toledo polled 36% of the vote and now looks set to face former President Alan Garcia - who mounted a far stronger challenge than most observers predicted - in a decisive run-off poll.

Mr Garcia is vying for second place with conservative congress-member Lourdes Flores, who had been in second place in the opinion polls conducted in the run up to the elections.

Mr Toledo - who was hoping to attract at least 43% of the vote - said he was disappointed not to have won outright, but vowed to fight on.

Former president Alan Garcia
Alan Garcia has mounted a stronger than expected challenge

He told a roaring crowd of supporters: "All we need now is one final step to start a new history of Peru."

"We have won in votes and in democracy, even if we did not achieve the 51%," he said.

The BBC's Peter Greste in Lima says Ms Flores could now become instrumental in deciding who will become the next president.

If she chooses to endorse Mr Toledo, his victory is virtually assured. But if she directs her supporters to back Mr Garcia, the final outcome will be wide open.

Surprising comeback

Analysts say Mr Garcia's comeback is all the more surprising given his track record as president during the late 1980s, characterised by 7,000% inflation and persistent guerrilla violence.

Lourdes Flores
Lourdes Flores is vying for second place

The writer Mario Vargas Llosa, a Toledo-supporter and one-time presidential candidate, put Mr Garcia's surprising result down to the fact that countries have short memories.

If the results are confirmed, a second contest will take place in May or June.

Most observers agree this election is vital in restoring public confidence in Peru's democracy, which has been tarnished by several years of politically-inspired fraud, bribery and intimidation.

International observers say that while preparations for the election were not flawless, they were a marked improvement over those for last year's controversial poll.

Instability

Political instability reached a crisis point six months ago when former president Alberto Fujimori fled to Japan after becoming embroiled in a scandal surrounding his controversial spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos.

In November, Congress appointed the moderate opposition leader, Valentin Paniagua, interim president. He is not a contender in the presidential race.

Since Mr Fujimori's fall, allegations of political dirty dealings have continued to circulate.

Hardly any leading politicians have been untouched by the release of videos showing Mr Montesinos handing out cash to key figures across the political spectrum.

The Peruvian embassy in Japan said Mr Fujimori did not vote at any of the nine polling booths set up in the country.

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See also:

09 Apr 01 | Americas
Fujimori stays silent
07 Feb 01 | Americas
New bribe claim in Peru election
28 Jan 01 | Americas
Exiled Garcia back in Peru
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