Sept. 13 - Guatemala faces run-off with retired general Otto Perez ahead in the first round vote. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
Retired general, Otto Perez leads in Guatemala's presidential election. Coming in with 36 percent of the vote, he was short of the more than 50 percent needed for an outright first round victory. He will face centrist Manuel Baldizon for a run-off in November. Baldizon won 23 percent of the vote. The wealthy hotel owner and former congress man's message is of supporting the elderly and poor. Perez has promised to send troops to the streets to fight criminal gangs. President of Guatemala's Supreme Election Tribunal said the process had been a transparent one. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF GUATEMALA'S SUPREME ELECTION TRIBUNAL, MARIA EUGENIA VILLAGRAN, SAYING: "We have finished election day where the Supreme Election Tribunal has carried out the job in a transparent and coordinated way with its responsibility to organise and celebrate free and transparent elections." The country's current president was content with the turn-out. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT ALVARO COLOM, SAYING: "I think it's an election with greater participation. That means Guatemalans are maturing and there really were incidents and accidents which we managed to control and they all happened during a period of relative calm." Residents in the capital were also pleased with the election process. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT, GILBERTO GARCIA, SAYING: "It was all coordinated, people voted calmly." Although Perez 's share of the vote was less than opinion polls had indicated, the showing suggests he is well placed to win the second round. If he does win, he would be the first former army officer to take power since Guatemala returned to democracy in 1986 after decades of military rule. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters.