RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A large group of retired Peruvian military personnel demonstrated this Monday in Lima against the recent presidential election results and in rejection of interim President Francisco Sagasti’s decision to submit a letter suggesting a coup d’état to the Attorney General’s Office.
Retired armed forces expressed discontent with Sagasti’s rejection of the letter released last week calling on active military personnel to disavow leftist Pedro Castillo as the winner of the election after rightist Keiko Fujimori denounced electoral fraud without evidence.
The mobilization was led by retired Admiral Jorge Montoya, who will take office on July 28 as the most-elected congressman for the next five years and who has already hinted at the possibility – not provided for by law – that the new Congress could call new elections if there is still no officially proclaimed president by the time he takes office.
In this hypothetical scenario raised by Montoya, he could become interim president and assume executive power until new elections are held. He would be the parliamentarian with the most votes, surpassing only former President Martin Vizcarra, who is disqualified.
“We cannot be forced not to give opinions and even less not to speak freely. Some letters have been written in which many of those who are here state their political position, and the government didn’t like that, and they had no better idea than to send them to the prosecutor’s office. That’s called arrogance, abuse, and coercion,” Montoya said.
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“They are the ones who are to blame. They all have the right to complain and express what they want to do. We must never allow them to violate the rights of our citizens. We must be vigilant and go out to complain when necessary, peacefully, as we do here,” he added, megaphone in hand.
“DIFFICULT MOMENTS” ON THE WAY
Montoya predicted that “difficult moments are on the way” and promised to “uphold the Constitution,” in line with the military’s letter to Sagasti in which they invoked the Constitution because they believed Castillo was an illegally elected president.
“The Constitution is our foundation that keeps us at peace because we all have the duty to respect it, and we will not allow anyone to destroy, alter or attack it,” Montoya added about Castillo’s promise to convene a constituent assembly for a new constitution.
Retired Admiral Jose Cueto, another congressman-elect for Renovación Popular, also participated in the demonstration, as did lawyer Antero Florez-Araoz, the defense minister for the late ex-president Alan Garcia and prime minister for the short-lived ex-president Manuel Merino, who was in office for only five days.
“It is one thing that those who are active do not have the right to ‘consult,’ but those who are retired have every right to express themselves and demonstrate,” Florez-Aráoz said.
The mobilization repeated slogans already heard in the various demonstrations promoted by Fujimorism to denounce the alleged fraud, such as “No to Communism” and “Thief” shouts directed at Piero Corvetto, head of the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE), which is responsible for counting the votes.
NO EVIDENCE OF FRAUD
After the vote count, Castillo is ahead of Fujimori by 44,058 votes in a close election in which he received 50.12% of the vote compared to his rival’s 49.87%.
Fujimori, however, has requested the cancellation of some 200,000 votes from rural, Andean, and poor areas where Castillo won overwhelmingly because of what she perceives as evidence of systematic fraud by her rival in the electoral tables, with false signatures among other alleged irregularities.
So far, none of the allegations have been declared substantiated by the electoral juries. In contrast, electoral observation missions such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore) have ruled out the possibility of fraud since they have not detected any serious irregularities.
This was confirmed by an analysis of the electoral protocols by pollster Ipsos, which found no evidence of “systematic fraud” in the polling stations, as claimed by Fujimori.