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In brief: El Salvador, Costa Rica presidential elections going to runoffs

TUESDAY, FEB. 4, 2014

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – El Salvador’s ruling leftist party appeared to win the presidential vote with nearly all ballots counted by Monday, but candidate Salvador Sanchez of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front probably faces a runoff by narrowly failing to win a simple majority of votes.

The presidential election in Costa Rica also held Sunday was much closer, and that race also appeared headed toward a second round.

El Salvador’s electoral tribunal said that with 99.16 percent of the votes counted, Sanchez had just under 49 percent of ballots – short of the 50 percent plus one vote needed for an outright victory. San Salvador Mayor Norman Quijano, the candidate of the long-governing conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance, known as ARENA, had almost 39 percent. Former President Tony Saca, running for an alliance of three conservative parties, got 11 percent.

Sanchez declared victory in the first round and said he wanted to ally with Saca’s supporters for the runoff, which would be held March 9.

With 88 percent of ballots counted in Costa Rica, upstart opposition candidate Luis Guillermo Solis had nearly 31 percent of the vote, while ruling party candidate Johnny Araya had just under 30 percent. Costa Rica requires a runoff when no candidate wins at least 40 percent of the votes, and the second round would be held April 6.

Mandela’s estate worth $4.1 million

JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela’s estate, worth roughly $4.1 million, will be shared between his family, members of his staff, schools that he attended and the African National Congress, the movement that fought white rule and now governs South Africa, the will’s executors said Monday.

Mandela’s third wife, Graca Machel, is the main beneficiary of the will because their marriage was “in community of property” and she therefore has the right to half his estate, as long as she claims it within 90 days, said executor Dikgang Moseneke, who is also deputy chief justice of the Constitutional Court. Graca Machel’s first husband, President Samora Machel of Mozambique, died in a plane crash in 1986.

Moseneke said he is not aware of any challenges to the provisions of the will. Mandela died Dec. 5 at age 95.

Protesters demand constitution fixes

KIEV, Ukraine – Leaders of the anti-government protests that have gripped Ukraine’s capital for more than two months say they will seek constitutional changes that will weaken the president’s powers.

The changes are expected to be discussed in a parliament session today that comes as Ukraine’s political crisis wades through a stalemate. Protesters are refusing to leave their encampment in downtown Kiev or vacate buildings they occupy, but radicals who clashed with police last month are holding to an uneasy truce.

Meanwhile, the European Union urged Ukraine to end its political crisis so the bloc could consider increasing aid to the country’s struggling economy. However, there was little sign of progress on that front.

Opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Monday said constitutional change would “cancel the dictatorial powers of the president and transfer the right of governing the country to the Ukrainian people.”

Justice Minister Olena Lukash said last week that officials were preparing measures for constitutional change, but did not give details.


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