Panama leader’s deputy-turned-rival wins presidency

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An electoral staff member counts ballots for the presidential election at a polling station in Panama CityBy Christine Murray and Elida Moreno PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Panama’s vice-president, running as an opposition candidate, won the presidential election on Sunday after a campaign in which he took credit for outgoing leader Ricardo Martinelli’s successful economic policies while promising a cleaner government. Juan Carlos Varela of the center-right Panamenista Party (PP) helped Martinelli get elected as president in 2009 but later fell out with him. Varela had 39 percent support with about 80 percent of votes counted, enough for a comfortable victory over his two main rivals, Jose Domingo Arias or the ruling Democratic Change party (CD) and left-leaning former Panama City mayor Juan Carlos Navarro of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). There will be an honest, humane government of national unity, a government of social peace,” Varela told Reuters at a Panama City hotel after the election tribunal declared him the winner.