SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico’s delegate to the U.S. Congress, who favors the island’s current status as a U.S. commonwealth, claimed victory Wednesday in a gubernatorial race so close that a recount has been ordered.

“The people have given the mandate to me,” said Anibal Acevedo Vila. Rival candidate former Gov. Pedro Rossello has yet to comment publicly on the preliminary results from Tuesday’s vote.

With more than 98 percent of ballots counted, Acevedo Vila had 48.38 percent to 48.18 for Rossello.

State Elections Commission President Aurelio Gracia said the recount would be carried out Monday.

Another close race was for the island’s non-voting congressional delegate, with the pro-statehood party’s Luis Fortuno winning with 48.52 percent of the vote to 48.03 percent for Roberto Prats of Acevedo Vila’s Popular Democratic Party. Prats said he wouldn’t wait for a recount and conceded defeat Wednesday afternoon.

Rossello’s party took control of the legislature from Acevedo Vila’s party, winning 18 seats in the 27-member Senate and 34 in the 51-member House, according to preliminary results.

Rossello, governor from 1993 through 2000, had pledged a new campaign to make Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state through a referendum on statehood, an option narrowly defeated in nonbinding votes in 1993 and 1998.

Acevedo Vila criticized Rossello for corruption scandals involving officials in his government, and a number of supporters said that was a major concern.

Acevedo Vila pledged a constitutional assembly to discuss Puerto Rico’s status next year. He says he favors reforming the commonwealth system to allow for greater autonomy, particularly in economic development.

AP-ES-11-03-04 2121EST



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