El Salvador’s election officials on Sunday declared ex-leftist guerrilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren the winner of a March 9 presidential election, after rejecting the opposition’s last challenges to the results.
Eugenio Chicas, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal confirmed a razor-thin election win by Ceren over Norman Quijano of the conservative ARENA party who had challenged the results.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said Sanchez Ceren, of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, won 50.11 percent of the vote while ARENA candidate Norman Quijano received 49.98 percent.
“The people, united, will never be defeated,” FMLN supporters chanted at the hotel where the tally was held as they awaited the final result.
The tribunal had twice conducted a manual count of the votes at the request of Quijano, who also had demanded that the results be nullified because of alleged fraud.
Sanchez Ceren, 69, served as vice president under President Mauricio Funes, who came to office in 2009 at the head of El Salvador’s first leftist government, ending two decades of right-wing rule.
Sanchez Ceren was one of five top guerrilla commanders during the 1979 to 1992 civil war, and the first to be elected president.
The FMLN and ARENA were the main protagonists of that conflict.
After the rebels laid down their arms, the FMLN became a legal political party.
Quijano, 67, the mayor of the capital city San Salvador, was a law-and-order candidate and staunch anti-communist who campaigned against the country’s high crime rate and the notorious “mara” street gangs behind much of El Salvador’s drug dealing and extortion.
Quijano, however, suffered from his links to ex-president Francisco Flores, a former campaign adviser, under scrutiny over $10 million donated by Taiwan that went missing during his 1999 to 2004 government.
After the civil war, El Salvador found itself facing violence from street gangs, which control whole neighborhoods and run drug distribution and extortion rackets.
Forty percent of El Salvador’s six million people live in poverty, and the country relies heavily on remittances sent by Salvadorans living abroad — around $4 billion a year, or 16 percent of the country’s GDP.
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(Post From PM News)