Nov 7 - Retired general, Otto Perez sweeps to power in Guatemala's presidential election, promising a crackdown on violent crime. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
Retired General Otto Perez sweeps to power in Guatemala's presidential election, promising a crackdown on violent crime. He will be the first military man to take power since democracy was restored in 1986. This is a clear move to the right for people in Central America's largest economy, who hope Perez will restore law and order. Many in Guatemala want a tougher stance on crime, in a country where the murder rate is eight times that of the United States. Perez secured 54.5 percent support with results in from 96 percent of polling stations, while his rival, wealthy businessman Manuel Baldizon, trailed with 45.5 percent. (SOUNDBITE)(Spanish) SUPREME ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL PRESIDENT MARIA EUGENIA VILLAGRAN, SAYING: "There were 4,370,000 votes cast, for a percentage of 54.49, which represents a historical record." Perez was a commander during the civil war in some of the most violent areas. There have been allegations troops under his command committed abuses. He has not been charged with human rights crimes and brushes off accusations against him. The country has started to prosecute military officers implicated in the worst civil war abuses, though some will worry that with Perez's victory, they may escape justice Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters