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Giammattei elected Guatemala President
Published on: Tuesday, August 13, 2019

GUATEMALA CITY: Conservative Alejandro Giammattei was elected as Guatemala’s President, defeating former first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off, the central American country’s electoral court said.

With the results being updated in real time on the court’s website, the institution’s president Julio Solorzano declared the result “already irreversible.”

Giammattei will succeed corruption-tainted outgoing President Jimmy Morales, who leaves office in January.

“The aim is fulfilled,” Giammattei had said earlier.

He had polled almost 58.5 percent with a lead of 550,000 votes and only a few thousand left to count when the court declared him the victor.

Giammattei will be under immense pressure from the United States to implement a controversial migration pact that would allow Washington to send most Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers who passed through Guatemala back to the poor, crime-stricken country. The two candidates had both avoided committing to strong positions on the US deal.

Corruption was the main issue leading up to the first round of elections in June, which Torres topped, but that has been superseded by the political scandal over the migration deal.

Neither candidate arrived with a glowing reputation.

The center-left Torres, whose ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president from 2008-2012, has been suspected of involvement in corruption.

Influential businessman Dionisio Gutierrez recently described her as “a questionable politician with a history that should worry any citizen.”

Giammattei has hardly come off any better. 

Investigative website Nomada branded him as “impulsive...despotic, tyrannical... capricious, vindictive,” among other undesirable traits.

But the 63-year-old, a doctor by profession, scored well on voter concerns such as the economy, corruption and security, according to Risa Grais-Targow of the Eurasia Group.

However, he now faces “a lose-lose scenario” regarding the migration pact, Grais-Targow said.

One of Morales’s last acts as president was to authorize an agreement with the US administration of Donald Trump designating Guatemala as a “safe third country,” which would permit Washington to turn away asylum seekers who didn’t seek refuge when passing through Guatemala.

The pact, part of Trump’s campaign to stem the flow of migrants to the southern US border, has proved highly unpopular in Guatemala, with demonstrators blocking roads and occupying the University of San Carlos in protest.

In a poll by Prodatos for the Prensa Libre newspaper, 82 percent of respondents opposed it. – AFP

 



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