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Peru Electoral Board Keeps Guzman in Race for April Elections

FILE - Peruvian presidential candidate Julio Guzman greets supporters during a rally at a market in the San Juan de Lurigancho district of Lima, Jan. 20, 2016.

A special electoral board in Peru on Wednesday opted not to bar "outsider" Julio Guzman's from April elections, setting the stage for a likely battle between him and longtime front-runner Keiko Fujimori.

The country's National Jury of Elections had blocked Guzman's party from registering for this year's elections because it did not fulfill a series of technical requirements, which threatened to disqualify him.

But the Special Jury of Elections, tasked with approving presidential candidates, said Guzman's party had amended the errors and was now enrolled. It also cited Guzman's constitutional right to take part in elections.

Guzman, a 45-year-old economist who climbed rapidly to second place on pledges to take the country back from a corrupt political elite, celebrated the decision from the highland region of Cusco where he was campaigning.

"It's beautiful news, wonderful," Guzman told reporters amid cheering supporters dressed in his party's signature purple.

Guzman, who was unknown to most voters months ago, has tapped a well of support from Peruvians looking for someone new in a race dominated by well-known but unpopular politicians.

He was the only candidate seen as virtually tying Fujimori in a likely June runoff, according to an Ipsos poll Sunday.

Fujimori, the right-wing populist daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori, enjoys a double-digit lead over Guzman but is not expected to garner the minimum 50 percent of votes needed to win outright on April 10.

Guzman worked for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington for a decade and was briefly an official in the government of President Ollanta Humala.

Humala cannot run for a second consecutive term and the ruling party candidate is trailing far behind in polls.