Former first lady Sandra Torres was in the lead after partial results early yesterday from Guatemala’s presidential election, following a tumultuous campaign that saw two leading candidates barred and the top electoral crimes prosecutor flee the corruption-weary country.
With 49 percent of votes counted after Sunday’s polls, Torres was on just under 24 percent while her closest rival Alejandro Giammattei was on 15 percent, the Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) said.
With a crowded field of 19 candidates, counting has been slow and no one is expected to poll more than the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff on August 11.
After casting her ballot, Torres, of the center-left Unity of Hope party (UNE), said she was “optimistic, we’ve worked hard... I’ll be the first woman president.”
Her closest rival, Giammattei, a doctor from the conservative VAMOS party, denounced an “irregular” electoral process after several candidates were excluded from the race to succeed unpopular outgoing president Jimmy Morales.
Morales had called on Guatemalans to turn out in droves to vote, but when he did so he was accosted by a young man who blasted him for being “the worst president in Guatemala’s history.”
Morales, sporting a Guatemala football jersey, kept his calm, replying: “May God bless you, my friend.”