El Salvador electoral comisson stands by presidential election process, which State Department called "free and fair"

El Salvador's preliminary presidential election results show Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren in the lead. His challenger, Norman Quijano, asserts that "votes were stolen" and demanded Sunday's vote be nullified.
By JC Finley  |  March 12, 2014 at 12:01 PM
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As El Salvador awaits final presidential election results, conservative presidential candidate Norman Quijano -- who is falling behind in the preliminary count -- has demanded Sunday's election be nullified.

El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal denied his request but agreed to verify that polling station records match electronic tallies in the preliminary count.

Formerly the mayor of the capital city of San Salvador, Quijano alleges "on a national level, between 30,000 and 40,000 votes were stolen." The president of Quijano's political Arena party told reporters he had unspecified "proof" that Quijano won the election.

Quijano is running against the current vice president and former left-wing rebel Salvador Sanchez Ceren. Preliminary results show Vice President Sanchez Ceren in the lead with 50.11 percent of the votes to Qujiano's 49.89 percent.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki commented Tuesday on El Salvador's presidential elections, noting they were deemed "free and fair" by international observers, and voiced support for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal's procedures.

"Well, we, of course, applaud the Salvadoran people for exercising their democratic right in peaceful elections that international observers called free and fair. We urge patience as El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal finalizes the results of this election. Preliminary results from El Salvador's Supreme Electoral Tribunal indicate a very close election, as you mentioned. We encourage the use of established electoral procedures to reach a peaceful conclusion to any disputes. We look forward to working in close partnership with the candidate chosen by the people of El Salvador to be their next president. So naturally, we will allow this process to see itself through."

Vice President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the apparent winner in the presidential race, is a member of the Farabundo Marti Liberation Front, a former rebel group that transitioned into a political party at the end of El Salvador's civil war in 1992. He was named vice president when the FMLF won the 2009 presidential election. If elected president, Sanchez Ceren would be El Salvador's first former rebel president.

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