Statement on the Election of Jose Napoleon Duarte as President of El Salvador

May 18, 1984

On Wednesday, May 16, the Central Elections Commission of El Salvador certified Jose Napoleon Duarte as the winner of the May 6 Presidential election in that country. By this act, the people of El Salvador have made clear their choice of Mr. Duarte as the first popularly elected President of that country in recent history.

The voters have chosen as President a man who had dedicated his life to achieving democracy and reform for his homeland. We congratulate President-elect Duarte on his victory and pledge that we will do all in our power to strengthen the ties of freedom and democracy that unite us.

Mr. Duarte carried with him a clear mandate from the people of El Salvador, over 80 percent of whom voted on May 6, that democracy and the vote should determine their future. The United States bipartisan observer delegation noted that, ``This election was fair and honest, and . . . provided a clear and undeniable mandate to whichever candidate is elected.'' Election observers from other countries echoed a similar conclusion.

In protecting both rounds of the recent elections, the Salvadoran Armed Forces took more than 80 casualties, demonstrating once again their determination to defend freedom. They acted professionally and apolitically and are showing us now that they will respect the popular electoral will. In contrast, the guerrillas refused to participate in the election and intensified the combat before, during, and after the voting.

As El Salvador's voters had to brave the intimidation of the guerrillas, their newly elected President will have to face the challenges of creating a peaceful and secure framework for social and humanitarian reform, economic development, and further democratic advance.

The people of El Salvador have spoken. We, along with other nations committed to a democratic form of government, must heed their courageous action. We will support their newly elected government in the pursuit of and the opportunity for a better life.

I look forward to meeting with El Salvador's new President-elect on Monday, May 21, during his visit to Washington. In addition, I have asked Secretary of State George Shultz to head our delegation to the President-elect's inauguration on June 1 in San Salvador.