A recount of the results of El Salvador’s presidential election will be completed no sooner than Thursday, the country’s election authorities said Tuesday, following a surprisingly close run-off vote over the weekend. Fewer than 7,000 votes separated former guerrilla commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren from conservative rival Norman Quijano, according to a preliminary count on Monday. Initial results showed that the left-wing candidate Ceren claimed 50.11% of the vote, while Quijano, the right-wing mayor of the capital city, won 49.89% of ballots. While the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said it would not announce a winner before a manual count had been completed, it expressed doubts the preliminary results would be reversed.
The extremely tight tally came as a surprise since Ceren, representing the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, or FMLN party, had been tipped to win by as many as 10 percentage points.
Quijano, the candidate of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), repeatedly said on Monday that the election was rife with fraud.
He told CNN that his campaign would ask for a ballot by ballot recount, even while accusing the Electoral Tribunal of allegedly acting impartially “before and during” the elections.