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Conservative in Salvadoran vote demands fresh polls as political divisions intensify

March 11, 2014

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – The conservative candidate in El Salvador’s tight presidential runoff, in which no winner has been declared, on Tuesday demanded a new vote be held.

Preliminary results show Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former rebel commander, edging out conservative Norman Quijano by a miniscule 6,634 votes, 50.11 percent to 49.89.

A final manual tally was under way with the electoral council expected to announce a winner on Friday.

The preliminary result was a surprise, as the leftist Sánchez Cerén had been favored to win by as many as 10 percentage points.

Quijano, the San Salvador mayor, said he wanted a new election because the electoral council refused to do a vote-by-vote recount across the whole country.

The electoral council maintains that Salvadoran law has no provision for such a full recount.

“We are getting out front and submitting a request for the March 9 runoff vote to be declared null and void,” Quijano said.

After his announcement, members of his ARENA coalition walked out of the manual vote tally they were monitoring.

Legislative speaker Sigfrido Reyes, a leftist with the FMLN, said: “The final tally is one element of our legal process here. Nobody, not on some person or party’s whim, can just call it off.”

The FMLN and ARENA were the main protagonists of a bloody 1979-1992 civil war, and the election results showed how divided the country remains more than two decades later.

Salvadoran online media El Faro on Tuesday reported growing protests by ARENA supporters, and intermittent scuffles between backers of ARENA and supporters of the FLMN. No injuries were reported.

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