By Maria Caspani
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Global anti-corruption campaigners at Transparency International elected Peruvian lawyer José Ugaz as its new head on Sunday marking a shift from quiet diplomacy in combating fraud and bribery toward more grassroots activism.
Ugaz, best known for leading the investigation against former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori for corruption and human rights abuses, beat the former head of the World Trade Organisation Pascal Lamy by 75 to 49 votes, the advocacy group said.
Ugaz, 55, who served as special prosecutor in a string of high profile corruption cases in his home country, will replace Canadian Huguette Labelle, a former Canadian civil servant.
"Jose Ugaz and Elena Panfilova are the new chair & vice chair leading TI in the global fight against corruption," the organisation announced on Twitter.
A former head of TI's Peruvian chapter, Ugaz represents a younger generation that passionately embraced the organisation's relatively recent shift toward a more activist approach that calls for zero impunity for those who bend the law and escape punishment.
Lamy, in contrast, was seen as a candidate of continuity, someone who could wield influence discreetly in the corridors of power drawing on his years as an European diplomat and in leading global trade talks.
Panfilova, who ran on a a joint ticket with Ugaz, is known as a fearless campaigner for political rights and holding the powerful to account as head of the Russian chapter.
Founded in 1993 by Peter Eigen, a German lawyer who also worked for the World Bank, to promote transparency and tackle corruption at all levels and across all sectors of society, TI now has more than 100 national chapters worldwide.
Its annual Corruption Perceptions Index is widely regarded as the most reliable indicator of corruption at the national level.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Stella Dawson)