Conservative Giammattei elected Guatemala president

GUATEMALA CITY: Conservative Alejandro Giammattei has been elected president in Guatemala, sweeping to victory on promises to stem mass migrations to the United States by combating poverty, corruption and violence in the Central American country.
Giammattei defeated former first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off on Sunday, garnering more than 58 per cent of the vote. Torres, a social democrat, won 42 per cent.
More than 99 per cent of the ballots have been counted, according to Supreme Electoral Tribunal, whose president Julio Solorzano had declared the result “already irreversible” part-way through the count.
Nevertheless, turnout was low and preliminary data indicated more than 55 per cent of eligible voters may have abstained, underscoring the challenges facing Giammattei.
“The aim is fulfilled,” said Giammattei, a 63-year-old doctor who was defeated in three previous runs for president.
Giammattei will take over in January from corruption-tainted President Jimmy Morales, who congratulated his successor and promised a “transparent and orderly” transition.
He 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-ridden 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was the main issue leading up to the first round of elections in June — which Torres topped — but that has been superseded by the political scandal over the migration deal.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 centre-left Torres, whose ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president from 2008-2012, has been suspected of involvement in corruption.
Giammattei has not come off much better.
Investigative website Nomada branded him as “impulsive… despotic, tyrannical… capricious, vindictive,” among other traits.
But he scored well on such voter concerns as the economy, corruption and security, according to Risa Grais-Targow of the Eurasia Group. — AFP