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Peru Elections: Election Judge Resigns Amid Alleged “Political Bias” in Judicial Battle to Decide Next President

The court is now left without the necessary number of judges to continue with the process and proclaim the results of the Presidential election

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A judge of the National Jury of Elections (JNE) resigned from his position leaving without a quorum the body that will define who will be Peru’s president. The resignation comes after denouncing political bias in favor of communist Pedro Castillo.

Now the court, which evaluates the claims of electoral irregularities by the candidate Keiko Fujimori, is left without the necessary number of judges to continue with the process and proclaim the results.

What will happen after Judge Arce’s resignation?

Judge Luis Arce is the only one of the four magistrates who supports the thesis of alleged electoral fraud and declined his post after the court denied the first ten appeals by Fujimori seeking to suppress some 200,000 votes.

With Judge Arce’s resignation, the JNE is left without a quorum and will not be able to continue with the process of analyzing and resolving the more than 200 appeals in order to proclaim the next president of Peru.

Arce resigned his post denouncing irregularities in the electoral process and justified his decision as an action to avoid that his votes “be used to validate false constitutional deliberations that are in reality decisions with clear political bias”.

Specialists affirm that the law prevents him from resigning at this time. However, he assures that he can decline, and asked to be replaced by “the substitute already designated by the Board of Prosecutors”.

In his letter, Arce assured that there is the intention of “deciding the destiny of our nation […] violating the fundamental rights of Peruvian citizens”, because, in his opinion, the complaints of alleged fraud in the elections are not being adequately addressed.

The magistrate accused the president of the JNE, Jorge Salas Arenas, of lacking transparency and indisposition to find “the electoral truth”.

When will we know who’s Peru’s president?

Pedro Castillo - Keiko Fujimori - Peru's president - El American
Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori in one of the debates before the election (EFE)

This Wednesday, June 23rd, the first hearing took place in which the plenary of the JNE reviewed 10 requests of Fuerza Popular to annul votes in different polling stations. By majority, and only with the vote against Arce, the magistrates declared the appeals unfounded.

The JNE argued its decision by stating that Fujimori’s complaint would imply opening a stage of proof: in short, it refused to prove whether or not signatures were falsified in the electoral records because it considers that “there is no time” to do so.

According to the official count of the National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE), the communist Pedro Castillo won the elections, but as long as a judicial battle is maintained in the National Jury of Elections, no victory is a foregone conclusion. After 100% of the tallies have been counted, the difference between the two is only 44,058.

The only body empowered to proclaim the candidates or the winning presidential campaign is the National Jury of Elections (JNE), which now has the responsibility to validate the ONPE results or modify them through the challenge processes it is evaluating.

It is not clear how long it will take to know the results of these challenges. However, the decision should come before July 28, the date in which, according to the Constitution, a new president should take office.

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