Panama City — Panama's victor is the man the military is said to favor
Nicolas Ardito Barletta was declared the winner Wednesday of Panama's closely contested presidential election. The poll, marked by charges of fraud, was the first direct presidential election in 16 years.
The National Electoral Board said Mr. Barletta's margin of victory was only 1 ,713 votes. The board, which was appointed to recount the votes in the May 6 election, gave no vote totals.
Barletta's principal opponent was Arnulfo Arias Madrid, who three times before was elected president, only to be ousted by the military each time.
Barletta, who is said to have had the backing of the military, hailed his victory as the ''will of the people'' and said he would immediately begin work to solve Panama's huge economic problems.