PANAMA, May 5 (CGTN) -- Panama's electoral tribunal on Sunday night declared presidential race's front-runner Laurentino Cortizo, of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the virtual winner of the presidential vote.

The former agriculture minister of the center-left PRD had nearly 33 percent of the vote with more than 93 percent of votes counted, the election tribunal said.

A total of 2,757,823 Panamanians are eligible to vote, according to the electoral roll, and 7,725 voters cast their ballots from outside the country.

The change and flexibility of the requirement of signatures to register have resulted in greater participation in the elections of independent candidates to run for presidency. Of the seven candidates, three are independents.

Among the most important challenges facing the country ahead are the deficit in the system of social security fund, the fight against corruption, and the need for stronger and more independent institutions among the powers of the state.

According to a recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), although Panama has been the country with the best economic growth in the last 10 years in Latin America, with an average growth rate of 7.2 percent, it is still one of the countries with high inequalities.

The study recommended that for Panama to remain as a high-income country, it must maintain the momentum for logistical services, the tourism sector, digital economy, and the creative and cultural industries.