Cortizo declared 'virtual winner' in Panama president race

Panama's Electoral Court has declared opposition candidate Laurentino Cortizo the "virtual winner" in the country's tight presidential election.

Electoral court magistrate Heriberto Araúz said in a televised announcement late Sunday that Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party had a narrow lead of two percentage points over his rival Rómulo Roux, from former President Ricardo Martinelli's Democratic Change party.

Araúz said results from 92% of polling stations had been scrutinized, and that the voting trend remained stable as results came in.

Cortizo had 33% of the votes and Roux 31%, in what was an unexpectedly close race between the candidates of the two most important opposition political forces in the Central American country.