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Ex-Finance Minister Wins Runoff To Be Costa Rica’s President

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SAN JOSE, April 4 (AP): A former finance minister who surprised many by making it into Costa Rica’s presidential runoff vote has easily won that ballot and is to become the Central American country’s new leader next month, while still fending off accusations of sexual harassment when he worked at the World Bank.

With nearly all polling stations reporting late Sunday, conservative economist Rodrigo Chaves had 53 per cent of the vote, compared to 47 per cent for former President José Figueres Ferrer, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal said.

More than 42 per cent of eligible voters did not participate in Sunday’s election, however, reflecting the lack of enthusiasm Costa Ricans had for the candidates.

In his victory speech, Chaves said he received the result with humility and called for unity to address problems like unemployment and a soaring budget deficit.

“For me this is not a medal nor a trophy, but rather an enormous responsibility, heaped with challenges and difficulties that we will all resolve,” he said.

“Costa Rica, the best is to come!” Chaves said before celebrating supporters. His inauguration is scheduled for May 8.

Figueres conceded defeat less than an hour after results began to come in. He had led the first round of voting Feb. 6, with Chaves in second that day. Neither had come close to the 40 per cent of the vote needed to avoid a runoff.

“Costa Rica has voted and the people have spoken,” Figueres said. “As the democrats we are we will always be respectful of that decision.”

He congratulated Chaves and wished him the best, adding that continues to believe that Costa Rica is in a “deep crisis” and he is willing to help it recover.

Figueres, who was Costa Rica’s president from 1994 to 1998, represents the National Liberation Party like his father, three-time president José Figueres Ferrer. Chaves served briefly in the administration of outgoing President Carlos Alvarado and represents the Social Democratic Progress Party.

Both men waged a bruising campaign that highlighted past controversies.

Chaves’ campaign is under investigation by electoral authorities for allegedly running an illegal parallel financing structure. He also has been dogged by a sexual harassment scandal that drove him out of the World Bank.

While working at the World Bank he was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, was eventually demoted and then resigned. He has denied the accusations.

The World Bank’s administrative Tribunal last year criticized the way the case was initially handled internally.

The tribunal noted that an internal investigation had found that from 2008 to 2013 Chaves leered at, made unwelcome comments about physical appearance, repeated sexual innuendo and unwelcome sexual advances toward multiple bank employees.

Those details were repeated by the bank’s human resources department in a letter to Chaves, but it decided to sanction him for misconduct rather than sexual harassment.

“The facts of the present case indicate that (Chaves’) conduct was sexual in nature and that he knew or should have known that his conduct was unwelcome,” the tribunal wrote.

The tribunal also noted that in the proceedings, the banks current vice president for human resources said in testimony “that the undisputed facts legally amount to sexual harassment.”

More than 3.5 million Costa Ricans were eligible to vote, but with many voters underwhelmed by the options, turnout was even lower than the 60 per cent in February.


 Wins Runoff To Be   

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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