AP NEWS

Ex-mayor tries to end decades of 2-party rule in El Salvador

January 28, 2019
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The presidential candidate for the Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional, GANA, Nayib Bukele, right, along with his running mate Felix Ulloa, raise their arms during a rally at the Plaza Gerardo Barrios, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Saturday Jan. 26, 2019. Bukele leads in the polls as Salvadorans get ready to go to vote on Feb. 3. (AP Photo Salvador Melendez)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Campaigning wrapped up Sunday for next weekend’s presidential election in El Salvador, with polls saying the front-runner is a young ex-mayor who is promising to fight corruption and end three decades of two-party rule.

A victory next Sunday by former San Salvador Mayor Nayib Bukele would bring a fresh face to a Central American country plagued by poverty, gang violence and one of the world’s highest homicide rates. Nearly one in three Salvadorans lives in poverty, according to the World Bank.  

Results from 10 different polling firms say the 37-year-old Bukele leads Carlos Calleja of the conservative New Country coalition and Hugo Martinez of the party formed by El Salvador’s former FMLN guerrillas.

“We’re tired of these lying politicians, of so much corruption, that’s why I support Nayib,” Catalino Ramirez, 60, said while waiting in a large crowd to hear Bukele give a speech in the capital.

Bukele, a businessman who distributes Yamaha motorcycles and owns nightclubs, represents the Grand National Alliance for Unity.

If no candidate wins a majority of votes, a runoff between the top two candidates would take place March 10.

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The presidential candidate for the Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional, GANA, Nayib Bukele, right, along with his running mate Felix Ulloa, raise their arms during a rally at the Plaza Gerardo Barrios, in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Saturday Jan. 26, 2019. Bukele leads in the polls as Salvadorans get ready to go to vote on Feb. 3. (AP Photo Salvador Melendez)