Alternative Jose Raul Mulino wins Panama presidential election | Election News

The popular candidate to replace former President Ricardo Martinelli has promised to boost the economy.

Jose Raul Mulino, who replaced the former president who was banned from running, won the presidential election.

Authorities informally called off the race late Sunday after Mulino’s three closest competitors admitted defeat. The former security minister was a latecomer to the election after his mentor, President Riccardo Martinelli, was ousted after being convicted of corruption, taking a third of the votes cast in the country of 4.4 million people. 1 or more of the above were secured.

At stake for the new leader are government corruption, a severe drought that has affected maritime traffic in the economically important Panama Canal, and a wave of U.S.-bound migrants passing through the Panamanian jungle. This is a problem in Central American countries.

“Mission accomplished,” Mulino said after the initial results were released. “This is probably the most important day of my life, and the greatest responsibility as a Panamanian to guide the destiny of my country rests on me and my family.”

The 64-year-old, who is running on the Achievement and Alliance ticket, had been leading the polls ahead of the vote, touting his ties to Martinelli, who was originally his running mate.

The popular former president, who oversaw an economic boom from 2009 to 2014, had planned to run with Mulino as his vice president. However, he was arrested due to a money laundering conviction.

The outspoken politician continued to dominate much of the campaign, campaigning for Mulino from inside the Nicaraguan embassy, ​​where he received political asylum on February 8.

Mulino acknowledged Martinelli after his victory, saying, “When you invited me to be your vice president, I never imagined something like this would happen.”

More than 77% of the 3 million eligible voters voted for a new president, Congress and local governments for the next five years.

Anti-corruption candidate Ricardo Lombana came in second after Mulino, ahead of former President Martín Torrijos and former Prime Minister Romulo Ruu. The three admitted defeat on Sunday evening.

Jose Raul Mulino holds hands with supporters in Panama City, May 5, 2024 [Matias Delacroix/AP Photo]

the power behind the throne

Mulino will serve as head of state and prime minister for a single five-year term and is scheduled to take office on July 1.

A last-minute Supreme Court ruling validated his attempt to replace Martinelli after the former president lost an appeal against his conviction.

Mulino’s candidacy had been challenged because he had not won a primary election or selected a running partner, as required by Panamanian law.

But the court rejected the suit, ruling in favor of Martinelli, whose government oversaw an infrastructure boom that included expanding the Panama Canal and building Central America’s first subway.

Mulino promised a return to strong economic growth. Many believe former President Martinelli will lead the country from the shadows.

Voters were very concerned about corruption and the economy. The tenure of outgoing President Laurentino Cortizo of the majority Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) was marred by allegations of widespread official corruption, declining foreign investment and high public debt.

Last year, the country was thrown into turmoil by protests targeting the government’s interest in allowing Canadian mining company First Quantum to continue operating its Cobre Panama copper mine.

Critics say the mine is putting water sources at risk. This is a particularly sensitive issue in Panama right now. The drought has effectively disrupted trade transport through the Panama Canal.

The country also faces high income inequality, with unemployment nearing 10%, and gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected to slow to 2.5% this year from 7.3% in 2023, according to the International Monetary Fund. It is expected.

Mulino also has to deal with immigration issues. Approximately 500,000 immigrants streamed through the Darien Valley between Colombia and Panama. Activists have warned they face threats of exploitation and physical harm.

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