Panama’s Cortizo wins close presidential vote

Panama City (AFP) – Social Democrat Laurentino Cortizo won Panama’s presidential election Sunday in a close race that saw a large number of voters turn out amid concerns over corruption scandals and the country’s image as a money-launderer’s paradise.

“I feel very happy. I won. We won. What we have to do now is join forces as a country,” Cortizo told reporters shortly before the electoral tribunal confirmed his victory.

Cortizo was favored to win, with pre-election polls giving him a 10-point lead over his closest challenger, former foreign minister Romulo Roux of the Democratic Change party.

With ballots counted in 92.5 percent of polling stations, Cortizo had won 33.08 percent of the vote against 31.06 for his right-wing opponent Roux, a lead the electoral tribunal said was “irreversible”

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