Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Virunga Park chief shot

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algerian election: Bouteflika votes in wheelchair

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Algeria's media: a mixture of censorship and free speech

Read more

DEBATE

Algeria: What's the Choice? Incumbent Bouteflika Votes in Wheelchair

Read more

WEB NEWS

Nigerian web users call for end to violence

Read more

FOCUS

Bitcoin in the US: A monetary revolution?

Read more

ENCORE!

Fast cars and slow trains

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

FACE-OFF

François Hollande: France's most unpopular president

Read more

  • Nobel-winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at 87

    Read more

  • Low turnout in Algerian election tipped to return Bouteflika

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Hundreds still trapped in sunken South Korea ferry

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Deadly attack on civilians sheltering in UN base in South Sudan

    Read more

  • Eurostar train delay "chaos"

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

  • Ukraine talks open in Geneva as Putin talks tough on TV

    Read more

  • Pro-Russian separatists killed in attack on Black Sea base

    Read more

  • Man executed in Texas for 2002 triple murder

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies at 92

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in DR Congo

    Read more

  • Crunch talks on Ukraine begin in Geneva

    Read more

  • Stagehand of God? Maradona's legendary goal inspires a play

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

Americas

Ex-general takes early lead in Guatemala's presidential election

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-12

Early results from Guatemala's presidential election on Sunday showed right-wing candidate and former general Otto Perez taking a lead in the race amid promises to clamp down on rampant crime in the Central American country.

REUTERS - Right-wing retired general Otto Perez took an early lead in Guatemala’s presidential election on Sunday, promising a crackdown on rampant crime in the Central American nation.

Early results gave the 60-year-old head of the right-wing Patriot Party about 37 percent support with just over 5 percent of the ballots counted, the election authority said.
 
Perez needs to exceed 50 percent of the votes cast to avoid a November run-off with the second-place candidate, expected to be Manuel Baldizon, a well-off hotel owner and former congressman who sports slicked-back hair and square glasses and promises handouts to the elderly and poor.
 
No presidential hopeful in the coffee- and sugar-exporting nation has won in the first round since Guatemala returned to democracy in 1986 after decades of military rule, but Perez says he has a chance to make history.
 
“We see a significant possibility of winning in the first round but it depends on the will of the Guatemalan people,” Perez said as he cast his vote at a school in the capital earlier, mobbed by television cameras and supporters.
 
Baldizon, who defected from the ruling National Unity Party in 2008 to found the Renewed Democratic Liberation Party (Lider), had 25 percent support in the early count, based on results from 904 of the country’s 16,668 polling stations.
 
Campaigning focused on Guatemala’s losing battle against street gangs and Mexican drug-trafficking cartels moving South American cocaine up to the United States.
 
About a dozen people are murdered every day in the country of 14.7 million and Perez gained traction by spouting a slogan of a “firm hand”—or “mano dura”—against crime in jingles, slick TV ads and ubiquitous orange campaign posters.
 
Similar policies in other Central American countries, like El Salvador, have meant sweeps by security forces to put in jail youths just for belonging to street gangs.
 
“I like the idea of a ‘firm hand,’” 30-year-old secretary Andrea Velasquez said at the polling station where Perez voted.  “We need a military solution to end the violence.”
 
The run-up to the election, which will also select legislators and mayors, was marked by more than 30 political murders since the start of the year, according to the independent human rights ombudsman. One former mayoral candidate is in jail accused of killing two rivals.
 
More security spending
 
Baldizon, 41, got a boost in the polls last month when President Alvaro Colom’s wife, Sandra Torres, was forced to pull out of the race. He scrambled to pick up her supporters.
 
Colom is barred by the nation’s constitution from seeking re-election. A law from Guatemala’s era of military dictatorships also stops close relatives from running for office. Several courts ruled against Torres’ run even after she divorced Colom in a bid to skirt the rules.
 
Both Perez and Baldizon say they want to increase security spending. The brutal Zetas cartel from Mexico is accused of massacres and beheadings in rural areas along Guatemala’s lucrative smuggling routes. Street gangs wreak havoc in towns and cities.
 
Perez wants to hire 10,000 new police and 2,500 soldiers while Baldizon has suggested creating a national guard and supports the death penalty.
 
Deploying the military to the streets—a model used by Mexico against the drug cartels—has different implications in Guatemala, where the army committed many atrocities during the 1960-96 civil war.
 
Perez commanded troops during the war and served as the head of a military intelligence unit accused of engineering assassinations of political rivals. He denies allegations he was involved in human rights abuses and points to his role signing the 1996 peace accords with leftist guerrillas as proof that he is a pragmatist.
 
Some voters who still have memories of the war are not convinced. “Soldiers are not trained to govern,” said 75-year-old Eduardo Higueros.
 
Last month, Standard & Poor’s put Guatemala’s credit rating on negative watch due to a rising deficit, expected to top 3 percent of gross domestic product next year, and a paltry tax take, among the lowest of all the countries the agency rates.

 

Date created : 2011-09-12

  • GUATEMALA

    Crime fears colour Guatemala's presidential vote

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)