After days of political posturing, allegations of fraud and sinister threats of military force, El Salvador's right-wing National Republican Party (ARENA) lost the presidential election by the narrowest of margins: It all came down to just 6,364 votes.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) confirmed that Salvador Sánchez Cerén had won the surprisingly tight-race for the incumbent left-wing FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front).
The elections were declared free and fair by international observers and the US State Department, amid protests and thinly veiled threats of a coup d'état from ARENA's presidential candidate Norman Quijano and his supporters.
The election, which Sánchez Cerén had been expected to win by a landslide, highlighted the profound social and political divisions within the tiny Central American country.
The 12-year bloody civil war (1980-1992) between the US-backed army serving the interests of the landowning right-wing elite and the FMLN fighters, supported by the poor majority, left 80,000 people dead and 12,000 missing.
An amnesty law secured impunity for perpetrators and left victims without justice — it was ruled illegal by the Inter-America Court of Human Rights — which means 22 years after the war ended, wounds are still raw and mistrust between the right and left still deep.
Sánchez Cerén, a former leader of the FMLN fighters who is loathed by the right, has publicly called for reconciliation and unity over the past week amid accusations from Quijano that he is a Chavez-Maduro ideologue intent on turning El Salvador into the next Venezuela.
ARENA, which looked down-and-out after the first round in February, impressed tens of thousands of voters with its rhetoric to produce a razor-tight finish.
Doubts have been raised throughout the campaign about Sánchez Cerén's ability to govern effectively.
Read the full article: Al Jazeera