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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 03:18 GMT 04:18 UK
Conservative wins Costa Rica poll
A voter outside a polling station in Costa Rica
The winners key task will be to revitalise the economy
Abel Pacheco of Costa Rica's ruling Social Christian Unity Party has won a comfortable victory in the country's presidential elections.

Mr Pacheco - a 68-year-old psychiatrist, television personality and businessman - obtained 58% of the vote in the first run-off poll to be held in more than 50 years.

Election results
Abel Pacheco: 58%
Rolando Araya: 42%
Mr Pacheco and his challenger, Rolando Araya of the National Liberation Party, had to take part in the run-off after neither won an outright victory in the first round in February because of the intervention of a third-party candidate, Otton Solis.

Observers said turnout for the second round reached a historical low, with only about 60% of the electorate casting their votes.

Mr Pacheco's followers are already celebrating, with cars waving party flags cruising the streets of the capital San Jose.

Economic task

During the campaign Mr Araya and Mr Pacheco were widely seen as almost identical - both being opposed to the privatisation of state-run industries.

Their respective parties have traded power in the Central American nation for more than 50 years with little challenges from others.

Mr Solis had been seeking to end Costa Rica's traditional two-party system, and analysts predicted few of his supporters would vote in the run-off.

The winner's key task will be to revive the economy, which stagnated last year, hampered by low world coffee prices, although Costa Rica does enjoy a much higher standard of peace and prosperity than its neighbours.

See also:

07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Costa Rica
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