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Guatemalan elections: Uncertainty governs as top candidates blocked

  A band with a picture of Sandra Torres, presidential candidate for the National Unity of Hope (UNE), is shown during a rally in Guatemala City, Guatemala on June 8, 2019.

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9659005] Sandra Torres is the front runner according to the latest polls

When Guatemalan leads to election stations on Sunday, two of the candidates who had recently been tipped as favorites will not win voting papers.

Both the former law firm, Thelma Aldana and Zury Ríos, the daughter of the late military ruler Efraín Ríos Montt, have been banned from running for the presidency and another candidate was arrested in Miami with suspicions of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.

Here is a look at the candidates and the main issues.

Who is chosen?

  A woman sorts bills into a warehouse in Guatemala City.


Guatemalan elections Source: Guatemala's highest election tibunal

How does it work?

The president is elected by absolute majority for a single four-year period. According to Guatemala's law, current President Jimmy Morales cannot stand a second term.

If no candidate gets more than 50% in the first round on June 16, the two main candidates will move on to a second round on August 11. 19659007] Nineteen candidates compete for the presidency, from the original 24.

What are the top candidates?

Sandra Torres: "Leave a loving marriage for the sake of a nation"

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Sandra Torres portrayed her husband to run for president

Sandra Torres, 63, hopes it will be the third time happy for her. She failed in her two previous attempts to become elected president but recent opinion polls put her in the lead.

Torres was married to Álvaro Colom, who governed Guatemala from 2008 to 2012 and who is currently under investigation for alleged fraud.

She divorced him in 2011 to bypass a law that forbade close relatives of the president from succeeding with him. At that time, she said "I separate my husband but I marry the people".

She also said she had found it "very difficult" to leave her "loving marriage" to Colom.

In 2011, her candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Court but she had to run in 2015. At that time, she had enough votes to get her into the second round where she was defeated by Jimmy Morales with a large margin of nearly 35 percentage points.

Ms Torres runs the Social Democratic National Unity of Hope Party.

She and her party are under investigation for alleged illegal campaign financing during the last election she has denied.

Ms. Torres says she will provide "comprehensive solutions such as development, the fight against poverty and jobs" to try to convince Guatemalan to remain in the country instead of migrating to the United States.

Alejandro Giammattei: "Wall of Prosperity"

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Alejandro Giammattei was once responsible for Guatemalan Prison Service

The 63-year-old candidate stands for right Vamos (Let's Go) party and this is his fourth attempt to become president. Each time he has driven for another party.

Giammattei is a trained physician appointed head of the Guatemalan Prison System in 2006.

That same year, he led a controversial operation to take control of the Pavon Prison, which had been run by prisoners for a decade. Seven prisoners died during the security surveillance war.

Giammattei was among eight people accused of the incident and after spending 10 months in prison before the trial he was released for lack of evidence.

He came fourth in the 2015 election.

He says that if he is elected, he will build "a well-patterned wall" to keep the Guatemalans from migrating to the United States.

To reduce the difference between the rich and the poor, he wants to attract more foreign investment to Guatemala by strengthening the protection granted to private property.


Roberto Arzú is the son of former Guatemalan president Álvaro Arzú.

Roberto Arzú: "Make Guate Great"

The 49-year-old conservative businessman wants to follow his late father Álvaro's footsteps, which guided Guatemala from 1996 to 2000.

Roberto Arzú has never had a public office but practiced one of Guatemala's most successful football teams. He has had a number of companies ranging from sports centers to shopping centers.

The outgoing president, Jimmy Morales, named him ambassador with a special mission to promote trade between Guatemala and South America.

He stands for a coalition consisting of the parties PAN and Podemos. His motto has been "Make Guate Great!" by using the abbreviated word for Guatemala and imitating US President Trumps campaign slogan.

He has invested mainly on security issues and says that he will crack himself in crime.

A Florida judge has ordered his arrest over an outstanding debt he owes to the Miami-based political campaign strategist JJ Rendón. Arzú says that he never signed an agreement with Rendón and is therefore not responsible for payment violations.

What are the main issues?

The election was overshadowed by the Constitutional Court's decision to wear Thelma Aldana, who had led the investigations and Zury Ríos from running.

Polls suggests that many voters are undefined and the election result is therefore difficult to predict.

The Guatemalans have told polls that their biggest concern is government corruption.

Four years after large-scale anti-corruption protests forced President Otto Pérez Molina to resign, many Guatemalans did not feel that enough had been done by Jimmy Morale's government to fight corruption.

Mr Morales caused outrage when he tried to kick the UN-backed anti-corruption commission out of Guatemala when he investigated him for alleged corruption.

The most explicit supporter of the Commission, known as CICIG with its Spanish initials, has been Thelma Aldana, who, as Guatemala's law firm, has worked closely with it. Before she was blocked, she said she would strengthen CICIG and make the government more efficient and transparent.

On the other hand, Arzú has been openly critical of CICIG and accused it of "breaking national sovereignty" and Giammattei said he was against the commission because "justice must be from Guatemalan, Guatemalan, of Guatemalan".

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