Peru’s electoral court has banned two leading contenders from taking part in next month’s presidential election.
Julio Guzman was rejected due to his party’s allegedly failure to follow procedure in nominating its candidate.
The board also rejected wealthy businessman Cesar Acuna for handing out cash to voters during the campaign.
Mr Guzman was running second to front-runner Keiko Fujimori – daughter of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori – in recent opinion polls.
Polls put Mr Acuna in fourth place. Together the two candidates had nearly a quarter of vote preferences.
Mr Guzman had vowed to call mass protests if the court disqualified him from the 10 April vote, which will elect a new Congress and replacement for President Ollanta Humala.
A recent opinion poll suggested conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori would secure around 35%, with Mr Guzman taking some 16% and Mr Acuna with more than 3%.
If no candidate gets at least 50% of votes in the first round, a run-off will be held on 5 June.
The electoral court ruled on Wednesday that Mr Guzman’s All for Peru party “seriously and irreparably violated its own rules”, by failing to comply with electoral procedure when nominating its candidate.
“We are really stunned by this decision. We consider it totally unjust,” said party spokesman Daniel Mora after the ruling.
Mr Acuna’s candidacy came under scrutiny a month ago after a television programme revealed that he had handed out cash to stall holders and to a disabled young man during a visit to a street market.
Mr Acuna, who was running for the Alliance for Progress, described his gesture as “humanitarian aid”, but the court ruled he had “engaged in prohibited conduct”.
The two candidates can make an extraordinary appeal to the court, but analysts say they have little chance of overturning the ruling, AFP news agency reports.