El Salvador Ratifies Sanchez Ceren Election Victory

El Salvador’s election tribunal ratified Salvador Sanchez Ceren’s victory in the nation’s presidential election, rejecting opposition calls for a recount on allegations of fraud.

In the final tally, Vice President Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front defeated Norman Quijano, 67, of the Arena party by 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, according to results from the March 9 election released today by the tribunal. The final count put the margin of victory at 6,364 votes out of 3 million ballots cast, compared with 6,634 in the first tally, according to the tribunal’s website. Quijano has alleged the election was marred by fraud.

“We have the people’s sovereign mandate, starting June 1 we will govern for five more years”, Sanchez Ceren said in his first public address since results were disclosed. “We are ready for a dialogue to build El Salvador.”

Bonds Plunge

El Salvador’s dollar bonds plunged the most among emerging markets after Sanchez Ceren, a 69-year-old former rebel commander who vowed closer ties with Venezuela’s socialist government, narrowly missed a first-round victory, winning about 49 percent of the vote held Feb. 2.

The yield on bonds due in 2025 fell six basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 6.94 percent yesterday, before the final results were announced. Yields gained one basis point today to 6.95 percent.

Standard & Poor’s is likely to keep a negative outlook on El Salvador’s BB- rated debt as the new administration struggles to revive growth and reduce the budget deficit amid a political stalemate, said Joydeep Mukherji, a managing director for S&P.

“The last government has prepared the ground work in many ways for private investment to take off,” Mukherji said on a March 12 conference call. “It’s not for a lack of policy, the issue is political.”

Street Gangs

El Salvador’s next president will have to confront a failing 2012 truce with street gangs that have made the country of 6.1 million people one of the most violent in the world, according to the United Nations. President Mauricio Funes, who wasn’t eligible for re-election, said this month that his government plans to deploy an additional 5,000 troops to augment 6,500 already on the streets to counter crime.

The winner takes office on June 1 with a public debt expected to reach 65 percent of gross domestic product by 2015, according to a Jan. 29 report by Barclays Plc. The International Monetary Fund projects El Salvador’s economy will grow 1.6 percent this year, compared with the 3.2 percent average for Central America.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Sabo in Panama City at esabo1@bloomberg.net; Isabella Cota in San Jose, Costa Rica at icota@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net; Philip Sanders at psanders@bloomberg.net Harry Maurer

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