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Gang-weary Salvadorans elect Bukele as president

AFP-Jiji SAN SALVADOR (AFP-Jiji) — Salvadorans on Sunday elected Nayib Bukele, the popular former mayor of San Salvador, as the Central American country’s new president — a result that ends the near 30-year grip on power of its two largest parties.

“At this moment we can announce with total certainty that we have won the presidency,” the 37-year-old Bukele, of the conservative Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) party, told supporters late Sunday.

A few minutes earlier, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) had awarded him 52.93 percent of the vote with almost 70 percent of ballots counted. It went on to announce preliminary results gave Bukele an “irreversible” lead of 53.78 percent of votes with 87.67 percent counted.

Bukele has promised to increase investment in education and fight corruption — but his main task will be to implement new programs to confront insecurity.

He will also have to form an alliance with the right, which dominates congress.

Bukele’s opponents — Carlos Calleja of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), and Hugo Martinez of the leftist Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) — recognized the win. For nearly three decades, their parties have had a firm hold on Salvadoran politics.

“We recognize the results of these elections. We are going to call the president-elect to wish him luck in facing the challenges in this country,” said Calleja, the runner-up. The FMLN’s Martinez took third place.

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