Panama's vice president wins presidential election

PANAMA CITY - Vice President Juan Carlos Varela pulled off a surprise victory in Panama's presidential election Sunday, thwarting an attempt by former ally President Ricardo Martinelli to extend his grip on power by electing a hand-picked successor.


Varela led with 39 percent of the votes, compared to 32 percent for Martinelli's choice, political newcomer Jose Domingo Arias. Juan Carlos Navarro, a former mayor of the capital, was running third in the seven-candidate field with more than 83 percent of the ballots counted. (AP)