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Tobacco magnate Horacio Cartes named president of Paraguay

April 22, 2013 at 2:22 PM

ASUNCION, Paraguay, April 22 (UPI) -- Conservative tobacco magnate Horacio Cartes has been named the next president of Paraguay, despite being involved in a number of scandals, officials said.

Cartes, who ran on the Colorado Party ticket, was declared the winner of Paraguay's presidential election Sunday night, The New York Times reported. He took 46 percent of the vote against 37 percent for his main opponent, Efrain Alegre, of the ruling Liberal Party. Electoral authorities declared Cartes the winner after about 80 percent of the voting stations had reported tallies.

During his campaign, Cartes was pressed to answer questions about various scandals he was involved in, including being sent to prison in 1989 on currency fraud charges and why police officers found a plane carrying cocaine and marijuana on a ranch he owns in 2000, the Times said.

Regarding his prison time, a spokesman for Cartes said the president elect had a "tranquil conscience" about the matter and was later cleared of wrongdoing by Paraguayan courts.

On the drug trafficking allegations, Cartes said in an interview in March that a plane carrying drugs made an emergency landing on an airstrip at the ranch and police intervened.

"I wouldn't want to be president if I had ties to drug traffickers, and I also don't plan to legalize anything," he said.

Cartes and the Colorado Party were also accused of vote-buying during the campaign. During a press conference Sunday, Cartes said those accusations were an attempt to discredit him.

"I was a victim," he said. "A lot of things are said in a campaign."

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