Johnny Araya, the presidential candidate of Costa Rica's governing centrist PLN party, announced Wednesday that he is withdrawing from the race just a month before the April 6 runoff.

"Good sense indicates, now more than ever, that reality must be considered and therefore, with a firm intention, I am making known my decision today to conclude my campaign for the presidency," Araya told reporters, reading from a prepared statement.

A poll released Wednesday by the University of Costa Rica's Political Research and Studies Center show center-left candidate Luis Guillermo Solis leading Araya by 64 percent to 20 percent, and Araya's withdrawal from the race appears to guarantee Solis the victory.

Costa Rica's constitution does not permit one to withdraw one's candidacy for an election runoff so Araya's name will remain on the ballot, the TSA electoral court said.

Accompanied by his family, PLN lawmakers and numerous supporters, Araya read from the statement for about 10 minutes and did not take questions from the reporters who attended the press conference in a San Jose hotel.

"I have noticed a feeling among Costa Ricans, I have heard their reasons, I have paid attention to their judgments, I have consulted surveys that measure the deep currents of public opinion and I have verified the existence of a increasing willingness to replace the (ruling) party in ... government," he said.

This is the first time that a presidential candidate has cut short his aspirations this late in the race since Costa Rica adopted its current constitution in 1949. EFE