Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Salvadoran ex-rebels claim ‘historic’ success

DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION Preliminary results showed that the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front had taken the lead in El Salvador’s parliamentary election

AFP , SAN SALVADOR

Former leftist Salvadoran rebels from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) late on Sunday claimed what they described as “historic” successes in the country’s legislative and municipal elections, saying they will now become “the leading political force” in the country’s Congress. But the official vote count still remained in an early stage.

“We have achieved historic voting results in both parliamentary and mayoral elections,” FMLN spokesman Sigrido Reyes said.

The claim was backed by an announcement by the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which said, after counting slightly over 32 percent of the ballot, that the front had taken the lead in the parliamentary vote with 308,151 ballots versus 288,396 ballots gained by the right-wing National Republican Alliance (ARENA).

Reyes said the FMLN had won mayoral races in at least 85 out of 262 cities and towns.

However, the left appears to have suffered a setback in the capital after Norman Quijano, an ARENA candidate, claimed victory in mayoral elections in San Salvador.

Some 4.2 million people were eligible to vote for 84 lawmakers, 20 members of the Central American Parliament and 262 municipal councils, in local elections ahead of presidential polls in March in which leftist Mauricio Funes is the favorite.

But only half of them actually took part, election officials said.

The FMLN is the former coalition of Marxist guerrillas that battled the government during the 12-year civil war in which 75,000 people died.

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