Juan Carlos Varela, Panama’s president elect, waves to supporters after delivering his acceptance speech in Panama City, Sunday, May 4, 2014. Varela was declared the victor of Panama’s presidential election, thwarting an attempt by former ally President Ricardo Martinelli to extend his grip on power by electing a hand-picked successor. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
PANAMA CITY (AP) — Vice President Juan Carlos Varela pulled off a surprise victory in Panama’s presidential election Sunday, thwarting an attempt by former ally President Ricardo Martinelli to extend his grip on power by electing a hand-picked successor.
Varela led with 39 percent of the votes, compared to 32 percent for Martinelli’s choice, political newcomer Jose Domingo Arias. Juan Carlos Navarro, a former mayor of the capital, was running third in the seven-candidate field with more than 83 percent of the ballots counted.
Varela, who takes office July 1, dedicated his victory to Panama’s democracy. Waving the nation’s flag at a rally to celebrate his victory, he vowed to put aside the partisan bickering of the past five years and put an end to corruption that worsened under Martinelli.
“Whoever wants to do business should grab their things and go to the private sector,” he told a cheering crowd in a clear swipe at the outgoing Login to read more