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Presidential nominee Antonio Álvarez Desanti to step down as legislator

Antonio Álvarez Desanti, who officially became the National Liberation Party (PLN)’s 2018 presidential nominee on Monday,  said he will resume his work on Tuesday as the Legislative Assembly President. He will resign his seat in May, however, to launch his national presidential campaign.

In his acceptance speech on Monday afternoon, the lawmaker said that he will remain in his post until the May 1st session, when lawmakers elect a new directorate.

He said he expects to leave the Assembly before the second week of May.

Costa Rican law stipulates that the next candidate on the Liberation Party’s legislative ballot from the 2014 election will take Álvarez’s seat at the Assembly.

That means that former Desamparados Mayor Maureen Fallas Fallas will replace Álvarez as a San José representative. In case Fallas should leave that post, the next in line is Wilberth Hernández Vílchez, a candidate from the canton of Pérez Zeledón.

Unite the party

Álvarez said that the battle for the party’s leadership is now in the past, and called for unity among all sectors of Liberation. He said he had already spoken with his fellow primary candidates José María Figueres and Sigifredo Aiza, and that he would meet with Rolando González — also a legislator — at the Assembly on Tuesday.

Álvarez said he will also meet in May with party leaders who supported other candidates in the primary election and will ask them to join the 2018 campaign.

He noted that he would incorporate proposals from the other candidates into his platform.

“I’ll assume the fight for a prosper, eco-efficient and supportive society that Figueres proposed. I’ll take Rolando González’s fight for better education, and I’ll take Sigifredo’s commitment with the less fortunate,” Álvarez said.

Araya is back

Among those who will join Álvarez’s campaign is San José Mayor Johnny Araya Monge, who was Liberation’s presidential candidate in 2014.

Araya told the daily La Nación that Álvarez’s victory make the decision to return to the party easier. Araya won his post as the capital’s mayor in representation of another party, following a four-year ban imposed by the PLN for dropping out of the runoff election in 2014.

Last November, however, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, declared that the rules on which Liberation based Araya’s suspension were unconstitutional.

“I still have to define some details to officially return to the party, but yes, I will return,” Araya told the newspaper.

Figueres: another bid?

At around noon, former president Figueres, who is also the son of three-time Costa Rican president and Liberation Party Founder José Figueres Ferrer, conceded the primary race to Álvarez at a press conference.

“Liberation has chosen don Antonio Álvarez Desanti, and I want to congratulate him, “said Figueres.

He admitted he has not ruled out seeking another presidential bid.

“It’s still an option. I have experience in the government and I have international experience, so I don’t rule out that option. I can help a lot,” he told a reporter who asked him about his future.

Slow count

Monday’s announcements followed a messy vote count that at one point Sunday night had Álvarez publicly expressing concerns about voter fraud.

The tabulation of results suffered an unusual delay that PLN’s Internal Elections Tribunal President Alvis González attributed to technical problems with the data transmission system.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, more than 24 hours after the polls’ closing, the Tribunal had published results from a scant 60 percent of the polling stations across the country. Results still showed Álvarez in the lead at 45.2 percent, followed by Figueres with 38.3 percent, González with 9.2 percent and Aiza with 7.2 percent.

During the last PLN primary in 2009, by midnight on election day, the tribunal had already reported results of just over 75 percent of the polling stations. That primary ended with a nomination for Laura Chinchilla Miranda, who also won the presidential election.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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