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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Peru faces presidential run-off
Elections officials count votes in Peru
Peru looks set to go back to the polls in May
A nationalist ex-army officer has a narrow lead in the first round of Peru's presidential election but the race looks set for a run-off vote.

With 59% of the votes counted, Ollanta Humala leads with 28% of the vote, with conservative Lourdes Flores in second place with 26%.

Former President Alan Garcia is close behind with 25% of the vote so far.

A second round looks certain as Mr Humala is well below the 50% of the vote needed for outright victory.

He has vowed to spend more money on the poor, and if he wins is expected to take the South American state in a similar direction to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

Peruvians were also electing two vice-presidents and 120 members of Congress.

The state deployed 53,000 police and soldiers to make sure the election went smoothly.

Presidential warning

Barred from standing for immediate re-election by the constitution, outgoing President Alejandro Toledo had appealed to voters to reject "the authoritarianism and the instability of the past".

PERU ELECTION
Presidential candidates: Ollanta Humala, Lourdes Flores and Alan Garcia
20 candidates
Second round in May or June if no-one gets 50% plus one vote
Voters electing president, two vice-presidents and 120 lawmakers
Voting compulsory for 16.5m registered voters

Correspondents say this was a veiled reference to Mr Humala.

Mr Humala first came to public attention when he led a military rebellion against the government of Alberto Fujimori in 2000.

His talk of rewriting the constitution in order to "stop the process of neo-colonialism in Peru", and blocking the signing of a free trade agreement with the United States, has reportedly led some foreign firms to put investment plans on hold.

Despite the country enjoying sustained economic growth, little of the wealth appears to have reached the more than 50% of Peruvians living below the poverty line.

The business sector is widely said to favour Ms Flores, a former congresswoman who is hoping her chances will be boosted by Michelle Bachelet's recent win in Chile.

Mr Garcia's 1985-1990 administration was marked by hyperinflation and rebel violence but he remains popular among many Peruvians and focused much of his campaign on attracting young voters.


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