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article imageEvangelicals make up quarter of Costa Rica's new assembly

By Marco SIBAJA (AFP)     Apr 28, 2018 in World

Costa Rica's new assembly will formally begin work on Tuesday, with 14 of its 57 new deputies evangelical Christians, making up one of the main groups in opposition to the center-left government of president-elect Carlos Alvarado.

The evangelicals, half of whom are pastors or preachers, were voted in by the National Restoration party -- which challenged the result of the April 1 presidential election won by Carlos Alvarado with 61 percent of the vote.

His rival, Fabricio Alvarado, a 43-year-old preacher who surged from obscurity by harshly criticizing moves to recognize gay marriage, came a distant second with 39 percent. Despite having the same last name, the two are not related.

Despite Alvarado's resounding victory, his Citizens' Action Party only holds 10 seats in the Legislative Assembly, with the list including Costa Rica's first openly-homosexual legislator, journalist Enrique Sanchez.

"There are differences over certain issues linked to the rights of women and human rights. We will stick to our positions and we will strengthen and defend them," Sanchez told AFP.

The former presidential candidate has taken a belligerent posture towards Carlos Alvarado's new government, sharply criticizing it even before it takes power on May 8.

"We cannot grant legitimacy to a corrupt, irresponsible government, which tramples on religious freedoms, and promotes a secular state and the death and destruction of the family," Fabricio Alvarado wrote on Twitter on Thursday, saying his deputies would be vigilant in their "defense of the family."

When it begins work on Tuesday, the assembly will have to urgently approve a tax reform to keep the public deficit at 6.2 percent of gross domestic product -- a move which the four previous governments had been unable to pass.

The incoming president, a 38-year-old former journalist, had on Thursday unveiled a national unity government made up of 25 ministers, including 14 women and 11 men, who represent the main parties in parliament.

None of them are evangelicals.

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