Moderate technocrats align with Peru's Humala

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 18, 2011 7:53 PM

By Teresa Cespedes

LIMA (Reuters) - Left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala added experienced technocrats to his campaign team on Monday, trying to convince investors he would keep much of Peru's market economy intact if elected president in June.

Among more than a dozen new advisers were two economists well-known in Peru: Kurt Burneo, the former president of state-run Banco de la Nacion, and Oscar Dancourt, the former president of Peru's central bank.

They had been affiliated with former President Alejandro Toledo, the architect of Peru's free-trade pact with the United States.

Humala, running on a promise to fight rural poverty that has persisted despite a decade-long economic boom, won the first-round vote on April 10 with almost 32 percent of the vote.

He will face right-wing lawmaker Keiko Fujimori in a run-off on June 5. Her autocratic father, former President Alberto Fujimori, is in jail. Though the younger Fujimori is trusted by investors, many voters associate her with corruption and human right crimes that sent her father in prison.

Humala, who narrowly lost the 2006 race, said he wanted to prevent the political climate from becoming polarized.

"(Let's) open the doors to consensus," Humala told reporters. "We want to unite Peru, not divide it."

Investors have been weighing whether Humala, a former soldier who has softened his hardline rhetoric of past years, can be counted on to maintain economic stability in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

Peru's benchmark stock index and the sol currency tumbled last week on worries Humala would beat Fujimori and jeopardize billions of dollars in foreign investment in mining and oil projects.

Since he finished fourth in the first-round vote, Toledo has encouraged Humala strike an increasingly moderate tone but stopped short of giving him a blanket endorsement.

In addition to Toledo, the two other moderate candidates who lost the race, former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and former Lima Mayor Luis Castaneda, have also urged Humala to unequivocally back market principles and clearly promise he would not try to change the constitution to run for a second consecutive term in 2016.

CANDIDATES WARY

The moderate candidates have also stopped short of fully backing Fujimori, apparently because they are worried doing so might tarnish their reputations.

"I don't want to dive into a shallow swimming pool," Kuczynski, a former Wall Street banker, said on TV.

Humala's campaign chief, Salomon Lerner, said his team was trying to emphasize programmatic goals while downplaying doubts about ideological differences among aides on Humala's expanding team.

"The points of agreement that matter are that we want to continue to grow, but with wealth redistribution," Lerner said on RPP radio.

(Additional reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)