Former Peruvian congresswoman still leads presidential race, poll shows

A former congresswoman enjoys a sizable lead in Peru's presidential election, slated for April, but a nationalistic ex-army officer is gaining ground, a poll released Monday indicates. According to the nationwide survey by polling firm CPI, Lourdes Flores, a congresswoman for the conservative Popular Christian Party in the 1990s, still leads all candidates with 25 percent _ though she slipped 2 points from a similar poll in October.

Meanwhile, Ollanta Humala, a former lieutenant coronel, shot up 10 points from October to claim second place in voter preference with 15 percent, edging aside two former presidents. Former President Alan Garcia, leader of the center-left Aprista Party, was third with 13 percent, while former President Valentin Paniagua, head of the centrist Popular Action party, had 11 percent.

Flores, a lawyer and a strong opponent of then-President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s, ran for president in 2001 but finished third and was eliminated in the first round of voting. Current President Alejandro Toledo defeated Garcia in the second round.

Humala led a failed military uprising five years ago against the government of Fujimori, who resigned a few weeks later amid a corruption scandal and fled to Japan. Fujimori was arrested earlier this month in Santiago, Chile, after he arrived there from Japan, the AP reports.

Manuel Saavedra, head of CPI, described Humala as an antiestablishment candidate who appealed to voters who felt unrepresented by candidates from the traditional parties. The poll showed Humala's strongest support comes from Peru's poorest sectors, especially isolated rural areas, Saavedra said. The poll, which sampled 1,000 people throughout Peru Nov. 19-23, had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.


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