Peru's capital set for first elected female mayor

Lourdes Flores (left) and Susana Villaran (right) Partial results put the two candidates very close

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Votes are still being counted from Peru's municipal and regional elections but the capital city, Lima, is set to have its first elected female mayor.

Susana Villaran, of the leftist Social Force Party, was just ahead of conservative Lourdes Flores.

First results put Ms Villaran on 38.9% and Ms Flores on 37.2%.

Sunday's elections were being closely watched as a possible indicator of voter sentiment ahead of next April's presidential poll.

Opinion polls ahead of the 3 October elections had made Ms Villaran, a 61-year-old human rights advocate, favourite to take charge of Lima.

This would be the first time a leftist has been in charge of the capital since the early 1980s.

Ms Flores has twice been a contender in presidential elections.

Whoever wins, though, the capital will have its first female elected mayor since the city was founded in 1535.

A woman served briefly as mayor of Lima in 1963-4, but she was appointed by the military government then in power, rather than elected.

With regional and municipal elections held around the country, President Alan Garcia is constitutionally barred from standing in next year's presidential race.

Opinion polls make Keiko Fujimori, a conservative congresswoman and daughter of former president, Alberto Fujimori, the front-runner, ahead of current Lima mayor, Luis Castaneda.

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