(Recasts with Cortizo declaring victory)
By Stefanie Eschenbacher and Elida Moreno
PANAMA CITY, May 5 (Reuters) – Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo declared victory in Panama’s presidential election on Sunday after an unexpectedly tight race that put him less than two points ahead of Romulo Roux, who has not conceded defeat.
With more than 90 percent of votes counted, Cortizo had nearly 33 percent of the tally, compared with about 31 percent for Roux, in the single-round presidential vote in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
The narrow race had raised the possibility of an upset by Roux, 54, of the center-right Democratic Change (DC) party, who lagged in pre-election polls behind Cortizo by more than 10 points. Roux has called for a full vote count, saying that he found ballot irregularities in some voting areas.
Cortizo, 66, said that his rival had the right to contest the results, but declared