GUATEMALA CITY — A runoff next month will decide who will become Guatemala’s next president, with comedian-turned-politician Jimmy Morales as the race’s front-runner in the Central American nation battling a political crisis.
Guatemala, a country of 15 million, is reeling from a corruption scandal that has prompted the resignation of its president, vice president and more than a dozen Cabinet members, ministers and government officials.
No candidate came close to the 50% plus one needed to lock up the vote in Sunday’s election.
Morales, 46, had 1.14 million votes, or more than 24%. Businessman Manuel Baldizón, 45, was running neck and neck with former first lady Sandra Torres, 59, with 19.41% and 19.25% of the vote, respectively, according to Guatemala’s electoral tribunal. Most votes have been counted and final results of the first round are expected soon.
Morales will face off with either Baldizón or Torres, whoever ends up ahead once the final tally becomes official. The runoff election will be October 25.
The National Convergence Front’s Morales jumped into the political scene in 2011 with a failed run for mayor of Mixco, a Guatemala City suburb. Baldizón is with the Renewed Democratic Liberty Party, and, Torres, former first lady from 2008 to 2011, is with the National Unity of Hope party. She is divorced from former President Álvaro Colom.
Millions of Guatemalans cast ballots on Sunday September 6th, during the general election to choose a new president, vice president, 158 members of Congress and 338 mayors. A runoff election for the presidency was widely expected with 14 presidential candidates.
Arrest warrant issued for resigned Guatemalan President 00:57
Otto Pérez Molina, 64, submitted his resignation as president last Thursday on Thursday, two days after the Guatemalan Congress voted in favor of stripping the former military commander of his prosecutorial immunity as head of state. The vote was unanimous, 132-0, and Pérez Molina is now in custody.
Roxana Baldetti, 53, the former vice president, resigned May 8 and is also behind bars. According to the Guatemalan attorney general’s office and a U.N. investigating commission, Pérez Molina, Baldetti and close aides within the administration received bribes in exchange for lowering taxes for companies seeking to import products into Guatemala. Pérez Molina and Baldetti both have categorically denied the accusations.
Alejandro Maldonado, 79, vice president under Pérez Molina, was sworn in as his successor Thursday. He had been vice president since May when he took over after Baldetti’s resignation. Maldonado has asked for the resignation of the entire Cabinet.
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