Guatemalans vote for new president after turbulent electoral campaign

Guatemalans vote for new president after turbulent electoral campaign

Center-left candidate Bernardo Arevalo leads in polls

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - The presidential runoff election in Guatemala will be held on Sunday after no candidate obtained more than 50% of the votes in the first round on June 25.

Recent polls suggest center-left anti-corruption candidate, Bernardo Arevalo, is projected to win over Sandra Torres, a former first lady who in 2011 divorced her husband to overcome the constitutional block on her running for office.

Sunday’s vote comes after what many have called an attempt to force the leading candidate out of the race.

The attorney general's office led by Rafael Curruchiche tried to disqualify Arevalo's Semilla Movement party for a case involving illicit electoral financing.

Curruchiche's accusation is one of the many controversial moves during the election campaign. A court also ordered the suspension of the Semilla party, which got 12% of the vote in the June general election.

Arevalo, 64, has accused the authorities of “political persecution” and the crisis prompted widespread protests in the Central American country.

The US, EU and Organization of American States (OAS) all have warned against election interference.

The White House said Guatemalans "deserve the right to vote for their preferred candidate between the certified winners of the first round of elections on June 25th without any interference."

Arevalo has raised the flag for the fight against corruption, and has promised to pull 60% of Guatemala's 17.6 million people out of poverty.

Torres is contesting for a third consecutive time, seeking to become the first woman president of the nation.

Over 9 million people are registered to vote, but experts say a low turnout is expected after authorities cast doubt over the electoral process.

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