Peruvians vote on Sunday on whether Keiko Fujimori, daughter of a former president jailed for massacres, should become their first female head of state in an election marred by alleged vote-buying and guerrilla attacks that killed four.
Half the candidates have dropped out or been excluded from the running under a tough new electoral law that saw Fujimori and other leading candidates accused of wooing voters with gifts.
The 40-year-old daughter of former leader Alberto Fujimori survived the charges and is likely to win about a third of the vote, according to three opinion polls published on Friday.
That would send her to a runoff vote in June against whoever finishes second.
Fighting it out for second place are former Prime Minister and Wall Street banker Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and left-wing lawmaker Veronika Mendoza.
Nine other candidates have either been excluded for irregularities or dropped out for lack of support.
Keiko Fujimori’s father, Alberto Fujimori, who was in power between 1990 and 2000, is in jail for crimes against humanity. The courts held him responsible for the massacre of 25 people he said were terrorists in 1991 and 1992.
The Fujimoris are among thousands of families of Japanese descent who immigrated to Peru in search of a better economic future.
Attacks before election
The conflict reared its head on Saturday, when four soldiers and a civilian were killed, in one of two attacks by remnants of Shining Path still hiding in the jungles of central Peru.
The three soldiers and a driver were killed as they were taking forces to guard voting stations in the Junin region.
Officials vowed the violence would not disrupt the election. Some 50,000 troops will be deployed to guard polling stations across the country of 30 million people.
Polling stations open at 1300 GMT and close at 2100 GMT, with the first official results expected by early Monday.