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PANAMA CITY – The Latest on Panama (all times local):
Presidential candidate Rómulo Roux of Panama has rejected the preliminary results announced by the country's Electoral Court that put him in second place.
The Court declared opposition candidate, Laurentino Cortizo as the "virtual winner" of Sunday's presidential race by a narrow lead of 2 percentage points pending the final recount.
Roux claimed, without offering immediate proof, that his campaign had been hindered by irregularities in the vote.
According to the early results, Cortizo of the Democratic Revolutionary Party had won 33% of the votes versus 31% for Roux, who is from former President Ricardo Martinelli's Democratic Change party.
There is no presidential runoff in Panama, so the top vote-getter in the field of seven mostly business-friendly candidates wins outright and takes office July 1 for a five-year term.
Panama's Electoral Court has declared opposition candidate Laurentino Cortizo the "virtual winner" in the country's tight presidential election late Sunday.
The vote followed a campaign focused on corruption and slowing economic growth in this Central America trade and financial hub and turned into the tightest presidential contest in recent years.
After scrutinizing the results from 92% of polling stations, electoral court magistrate Heriberto Araúz said in a televised announcement shortly before midnight that Cortizo had a narrow lead of 2 percentage points over businessman Rómulo Roux. The unexpectedly close race pitted the candidates of the country's two most important opposition political forces.
Cortizo, of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, had 33% of the votes versus 31% for Roux, from former President Ricardo Martinelli's Democratic Change party. There is no runoff in Panama, so the top vote-getter in the field of seven mostly business-friendly candidates wins outright and takes office July 1 for a five-year term.
Before the magistrate's announcement, Roux vowed not to concede defeat, saying the results were too close and suggesting that the race was marred by irregularities.