Panama Elections: Voters in Panama vote to elect a new president

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Voters in Panama began voting Sunday In the elections She was consumed by the unfolding drama surrounding the country’s former president, even though he was not on the ballot.

Before the blazing sun set, voters in the usually quiet Central American nation lined up outside polling stations, preparing to balance promises of economic prosperity and a crackdown on immigration with a corruption scandal.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024

“The election in Panama will be one of the most complex in its modern history. The vote was marked by increasing political division and social discontent under the outgoing President Laurentino CortizoArantza Alonso, senior analyst for the Americas at risk consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, said before the vote.

The presidential race remained in limbo until Friday morning, when Panama’s Supreme Court ruled on the leading presidential candidate Jose Raul Molino He let it run. She said he was qualified despite allegations that his candidacy was not legitimate because he was not elected in the primary.

Molyneux joined the race late to replace the former president Ricardo Martinelli As a candidate for the Achieving Goals Party. The fiery Martinelli was banned from running in March after he was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for money laundering.

Martinelli dominated much of the race, campaigning for his former running mate from within the walls of the Nicaraguan embassy, ​​where He took refuge in February After obtaining political asylum.

Despite lacking Martinelli’s courage, Molyneux retracted his relationship with the former president. He is rarely seen without his blue Martinelli Molino 2024 hat and has promised to help Martinelli if elected.

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Juan Jose Tinoco, the 63-year-old bus driver, was among those queuing outside the polling station in a coastal area of ​​Panama City. He said he planned to vote for Molyneux because he was the closest he could get to Martinelli, adding that he had earned a fair amount of money under the former president.

“We have problems with health services, education, garbage in the streets… and corruption that never goes away,” Tinoco said. “We have money here, and this is a country with a lot of wealth, but we need a leader who will devote himself to the needs of Panama.”

Molyneux promised to start and stop the buzz economics we saw under Martinelli Migration across the Darien GapIt is a dangerous jungle area that overlaps Colombia and Panama and through which half a million migrants crossed last year.

His message resonated with many voters fed up with Panama’s political establishment, which was troubled for weeks last year by massive anti-government protests.

The protests targeted a government contract with a copper mine, which critics said endangered the environment and water at a time when drought has become so bad that it has effectively impeded commercial transit through the Panama Canal.

Molino trails former President Martin Torrijos and two candidates from previous elections, Ricardo Lombana and Romulo Roo.

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