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Candidate of Palestine origin wins Salvador presidency

El Salvador presidential candidate Nayib Bukele (2-R) of the Great National Alliance (GANA), his wife Gabriela Rodriguez (R) and Vice President Felix Ulloa (2-L) celebrate after winning the presidential elections in Plaza Morazan, San Salvador on 3 February 2019
El Salvador presidential candidate Nayib Bukele (2-R) of the Great National Alliance (GANA), his wife Gabriela Rodriguez (R) and Vice President Felix Ulloa (2-L) celebrate after winning the presidential elections in Plaza Morazan, San Salvador on 3 February 2019

A candidate of Palestinian origin, Nayib Bukele, won Sunday’s presidential election in El Salvador, clinching over 50 per cent of the vote, according to the country’s official electoral board.

According to preliminary results (with nearly 90 per cent of ballots counted), Bukele, 37, won almost 54 per cent of the vote, the electoral board announced late Sunday.

By winning a majority of ballots cast, Bukele, who ran for the center-right Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA), avoided a runoff poll slated for March.

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Carlos Callejas of the center-right Nationalist Republican Alliance won around 32 per cent of the vote, while Hugo Martinez of the center-left-leaning Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) won nearly 14 percent of the vote, according to the board.

Businessman Josue Alvarado, meanwhile, reportedly won less than one per cent of ballots cast.

According to estimates, roughly one third of El Salvador’s approximately 6.5 million people live below the poverty line.

Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing poor living conditions in El Salvador have reportedly joined recent migrant caravans en route to the U.S.

Who is Neyib Bukele?

A former mayor of capital San Salvador, Bukele is of Palestinian descent. His father was a prominent businessman and a local imam.

He traces his origin back to a family that immigrated to the Central American country from Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century.

A businessman himself, Bukele served as mayor of San Salvador’s southern Nuevo Cuscatlan municipality in 2012. Three years later, he became the mayor of San Salvador.

Bukele’s election campaign included promises to fight corruption and end gang violence.

In February 2018, Bukele made a trip to Israel and met with then-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. He also laid a memorial wreath at Yad Vashem and prayed at the Buraq Wall (Western Wall).

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