Fujimori's daughter sees Humala as rival in 2011
LIMA (Reuters) - Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's conviction on human rights crimes will backfire, his daughter said on Wednesday as she eyes a tough race for the presidency in 2011 against leftist Ollanta Humala.
Keiko Fujimori, a popular lawmaker, said many voters in Peru will start flocking to her family's party to protest the 25-year prison sentence her father received on Tuesday. He was found guilty of ordering two massacres that killed 25 people in the 1990s, when he was battling Maoist insurgents.
Despite the verdict, polls show a third of Peruvians still support the man credited with defeating the Shining Path guerrillas and enacting free-market economic reforms that helped generate years of growth.
"This sentence, which was so extreme, will be like a boomerang for people who think the Fujimori movement has been defeated," Keiko Fujimori, 33, told Peru's foreign press club.
"Lots of people, especially poor people, are thinking of getting involved in politics because they think the verdict is unfair."
She said her 70-year-old father's sentence essentially condemned him to life in prison -- the punishment given to Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman.
Already a front-runner for the 2011 presidential race, Keiko Fujimori said that if she runs her rival would be Humala, who spooked financial markets when he nearly won the 2006 election.
Each would compete for votes from the poor in a country with a poverty rate of nearly 40 percent.
"The poorest classes are the ones that support the Fujimori movement, and in the last election they also supported Humala," she said. "This is something that can't be avoided."
Humala, a former military general, opposes free trade and is an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He has made inroads among poor voters with nationalistic speeches against the United States and neighboring Chile.
Keiko Fujimori has said she would follow the programs of her authoritarian father.
The elder Fujimori styled himself as a right-wing populist, opening Peru to foreign investment and rolling out education, health and food programs that made him wildly popular among the poor.
Though several other candidates will likely join the race, Fujimori and Humala are two of the strongest front-runners. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote they could end up in a runoff against each other.
The current president, Alan Garcia, is barred by the country's constitution from running for re-election in 2011.
He has told foreign investors he will do his best to derail Humala's candidacy by persuading Peruvians to reject leftist models that have regained popularity in Latin America.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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