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POLITICAL opportunist Nayib Bukele, who has vowed to stamp out corruption and tax evasion, was ahead in the polls as El Salvador’s citizens voted in a presidential election yesterday.
Large queues were reported at polling stations in the country, where 5.3 million people are registered to vote.
Although the race for the presidency was expected to be close, the former mayor of the capital San Salvador was the favourite to win.
The ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FLMN) and the right-wing Arena party have dominated Salvadoran politics for decades.
However, polls conducted before the election showed FLMN candidate Hugo Martinez trailing in third place behind Arena’s Carlos Calleja, with Mr Bukele of the centre-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) out in front.
El Salvador is one of the region’s poorest countries, with around 30 per cent of its 6.6 million people living below the poverty line.
It also has one of the world’s highest murder rates – more than 3,300 gang-related killings were reported last year.
Thousands of Salvadorans have joined the recent migrant caravans seeking to reach the US, to which President Donald Trump responded by threatening to cut aid to their poverty-stricken country.
Mr Bukele, who was expelled from the FMLN in 2017, controversially joined GANA after failing to launch his own party.
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