Jailed Fujimori's candidacy left presidential race

Peru's election board on Tuesday rejected former President Alberto Fujimori's bid to run in April's presidential race, the reason he had cited for a risky return from exile in Japan that left him jailed and facing extradition in Chile. "Citizen Alberto Fujimori Fujimori is subject to special disqualification," the National Election Board said in a legal notice published in Peru's official gazette, El Peruano. The decision was based on a ruling last year by the Constitutional Tribunal, Peru's highest court, that upheld a congressional order barring Fujimori from public office until February 2011. The National Election Board has final say on who can run in the April 9 race, which looks to be contested by a record-breaking 23 presidential candidates.

Anticipating the ruling, an alliance of pro-Fujimori groups registered Congresswoman Martha Chavez, a staunch Fujimori supporter, as a presidential candidate late Monday, shortly before a midnight deadline. Fujimori's brother, Santiago Fujimori, and one of his criminal defense lawyers, Rolando Sousa, were registered as her primary and secondary vice-presidential running mates.

Chavez on Tuesday accused the election board of caving in to pressure from the government, which she said had waged a campaign of "persecution" against the 67-year-old former president. "My candidacy is a strategy, a final effort of 'Fujimorismo,' to protect his presence in this electoral process in the face of this broadside and this campaign, foreseen and elaborated by the government and its allies," Chavez told Radioprogramas radio.

Fujimori is fighting efforts by Peruvian prosecutors to have him extradited to face a dozen charges involving human rights abuses and corruption. He arrived unexpectedly in Chile in November following five years in exile in Tokyo, where he flew in 2000 when his decade-long autocratic regime collapsed under the weight of growing scandals.

Fujimori's daughter Keiko registered his candidacy on Friday, hours after the Chilean judge handling his extradition ordered him to remain under arrest, possibly for months, while the extradition case is processed. The most serious charges Fujimori faces at home are for allegedly sanctioning a paramilitary death-squad accused of murdering 25 people, reports the AP. N.U.

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