RealNews

Salvadoran Party Selects Ex-guerrilla Leader to Seek Presidency

El Salvador’s main left-wing party — which had led in recent opinion polls — has chosen former guerrilla commander Shafick Handal as its candidate for the March 2004 presidential election, according to results released Monday. According to party figures released Sunday, Handal had taken about 53 percent to 47 percent for Oscar Ortíz, mayor of Santa Tecla, a suburb of San Salvador, for the nomination of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front. The 72-year-old Handal was a leader of the Front’s Communist Party wing during the 12-year civil war against U.S. backed governments. The Front transformed itself into a political party following peace accords in 1992. Since then, it has lost two presidential elections to the conservative National Republican Alliance, or ARENA. But recent polls — taken before Handal was chosen as candidate — show it leading ARENA. “From this moment forward, we are all clear that the struggle is to remove ARENA from the government,” he said. The divisions that have tormented the party known as the FMLN were still in evidence. The party’s 1999 presidential candidate, Facundo Guardado, said he doubted the legitimacy of the primary. Full Story

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