The leader of the former Marxist rebel FMLN party has claimed victory in El Salvador’s presidential election.With most of the votes counted, former journalist Mauricio Funes claimed to be in the lead. Red-clad FMLN supporters have taken to the streets of the capital San Salvador to celebrate. If confirmed, the results would mean the Arena party, led by Rodrigo Avila, would lose its first presidential election since the end of El Salvador’s civil war, 18 years ago. The conflict finished in 1991 with a UN-backed peace agreement. An estimated 70,000 people had died in less than two decades. Whoever wins will inherit a country beset by problems. El Salvador has been particularly hard-hit by the global downturn. Many voters want to join the shift to the Left in Latin America, but others are nervous about handing power to a party schooled in Cuban-style socialism, as the economic crisis bites.
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