Sat. May 25th, 2024

Jose Raul Mulino, the protege of a graft-convicted former head of state, was declared Panama’s president-elect after elections Sunday. 

Mulino, 64, won the single-round, first-past-the-post race with more than a third of votes cast, the Central American country’s electoral tribunal said.

The new president will have to contend with deep-rooted corruption, a severe drought that has hobbled the economically critical Panama Canal, and a stream of US-bound migrants passing through its jungles.

Mulino said he had received the electoral result with “responsibility and humility.”

The vote, he told joyous supporters gathered at a hotel in the capital, represented “the majority will of the Panamanian people.”

Runner up Ricardo Lombana conceded defeat moments before the official result was announced.

There were lines at many polling stations as voters in the Central American nation of 4.4 million people cast their ballots for a new president, parliament and local governments.

Opinion polls had shown right-wing lawyer Mulino far ahead of the pack of eight candidates.

But he was made to wait for a last-minute court decision Friday that finally validated his run for a five-year term.

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