Norman Quijano, the candidate of El Salvador opposition party, Arena, has accepted defeat in the presidential election held on March 9, after losing several appeals for a recount.
The Arena party says it will make “democratic, serious and honest” opposition to the new president, former rebel leader Salvador Sanchez Ceren.
Norman Quijano lost the vote by 0.22 percentage points.
El Salvador remains deeply divided 22 years after the end of its civil war.
Norman Quijano had complained that votes for the governing candidate were counted twice.
Norman Quijano has accepted defeat in the presidential election, after losing several appeals for a recount
On Tuesday, the electoral court rejected Arena’s latest appeal for a vote-by-vote recount. In a statement, Arena says it was willing to work for the success of the country’s democracy.
“As proof of our democratic vocation and respect to the institutions, we accept the Supreme Court’s decision against a vote-by-vote recount,” read the statement.
“We will be watching the government and making sure it respects the law. But we will be the first ones to applaud their achievements.”
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, from the governing FMLN party, was widely expected to win the runoff vote by a comfortable margin, after getting very close to securing a first round win. But Norman Quijano made gains in the past weeks of the campaigns.
He made repeated comparisons between Salvador Sanchez Ceren and the left-wing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose government has faced nearly two months of protests over inflation and crime.
Norman Quijano warned that economic chaos would follow in El Salvador if his rival won.
Slavador Sanchez Ceren campaigned as a moderate despite his past as an active guerrilla leader during El Salvador’s civil war (1980-1992). His party, the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN), turned from a rebel group into a political party at the end of the conflict.
Since being declared the winner, Salvador Sanchez Ceren has made conciliatory remarks, inviting the opposition in his “efforts to rebuild El Salvador”.
Left-wing rebel Salvador Sanchez Ceren’s victory in a tight presidential run-off election has been confirmed by El Salvador’s electoral court.
The electoral court said Salvador Sanchez Ceren won 50.11% of the votes in the March 9 poll, defeating conservative candidate Norman Quijano, who polled 49.89%.
Norman Quijano had challenged the result, alleging fraud.
The court’s decision makes Salvador Sanchez Ceren the country’s first ex-rebel to serve as president.
Salvador Sanchez Ceren won 50.11 percent of the votes in the March 9 presidential poll (photo Reuters)
On Sunday, the court said that there was not enough evidence to back Norman Quijano’s claim.
“Based on the results, Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Oscar Samuel Ortiz are declared president and vice-president elect respectively, for the period from 1 June 2014 to 1 June 2019,” court president Eugenio Chicas was quoted as saying by Reuters.
El Salvador’s outgoing President Mauricio Funes said he would meet Salvador Sanchez Ceren later on Monday to begin the handover process.
Salvador Sanchez Ceren became vice-president of El Salvador in 2009, while Norman Quijano was the mayor of the capital, San Salvador.
The main rivals are current Vice-President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the left-wing FMLN party and Norman Quijano of the conservative Arena alliance.
Neither is expected to win outright because a third candidate standing for a new independent party is likely to make a strong showing.
The campaign has been dominated by poverty and crime. El Salvador’s murder rate is among the highest in the world.
Correspondents say there are signs that a recent truce agreed between the two main street gangs is falling apart.
The main rivals are current Vice-President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the left-wing FMLN party and Norman Quijano of the conservative Arena alliance
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, 69, was a rebel commander when the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) was a guerrilla group during the 1980-1992 civil war.
He has promised to tackle crime through education and social programs.
Opinion polls suggest he had a lead over Norman Quijano, who stood down from his position of mayor of San Salvador to stand for president.
Many voters are critical of the 2012 truce with gangs, and Norman Quijano has accused the administration of outgoing President Mauricio Funes of negotiating with criminals. He is advocating tougher policies against drug gangs.
The truce has led to a decrease in El Salvador’s murder rate, but gradually the number of killings is going back up.
Analysts say the vote may hinge on the popularity of the third candidate, former President Antonio Saca who is running for the new Unidad party.
The second round of voting, if needed, is to be held on March 9.