Guatemala presidential hopeful cries fraud
GUATEMALA CITY – A millionaire businessman battling to reach the runoff in Guatemala’s turbulent presidential election alleged Thursday that the down-to-the-wire ballot count from the first round has been falsified by fraud.
“The signs of fraud are blatantly obvious,” said conservative candidate Manuel Baldizón, who four days after the vote is still locked in a neck-and-neck race for runner-up with former First Lady Sandra Torres of the social democratic party.
He alleged a “double counting system” was in place — a claim the country’s top election official said was baseless.
It was the latest twist in a race already rocked by months of protests against ex-President Otto Pérez Molina, his 11th-hour resignation and arrest on corruption charges, and the surprise first-round win of comedian and political outsider Jimmy Morales.
With 99.07 percent of the ballots counted from Sunday’s election, Morales had 23.85 percent of the vote, Torres 19.76 percent and Baldizón 19.65 percent, officials said. That means Morales, a conservative, will face either Torres or Baldizón in a runoff on Oct. 25. But with just 5,523 votes separating the latter two, the race remains too close to call, officials said.
A ‘friend’ told him
Baldizón said his campaign has requested the results sheets from all 2,700 polling stations.
“A friend said to me, ‘They’re stealing the election from us,'” he said.
Electoral tribunal chief Julio Solorzano dismissed the allegation.
“If they believe there’s fraud, let them prove it,” he told journalists.
Election officials have said they will finish reviewing the ballot count Friday and announce the results at a press conference.
Former President Pérez Molina, meanwhile, appealed a judge’s ruling to jail him pending trial. His lawyer said jailing the retired general violated his rights and was unnecessary because he did not pose a flight risk.
Prosecutors and investigators from a U.N. commission tasked with fighting high-level graft in the Central American country accuse Pérez Molina of orchestrating a scheme in which businesses paid bribes to corrupt officials in exchange for illegal discounts on their customs duty.
The scheme collected $3.8 million in bribes between May 2014 and April 2015, including $800,000 each to Pérez Molina and jailed ex-Vice President Roxana Baldetti, prosecutors allege.
You may be interested
Keylor Navas excellent, but leaves with injury as PSG advances in Champions LeagueThe Tico Times - August 12, 2020
Keylor Navas made several key saves in the first half as PSG rallied late to beat Atalanta, 2-1, in Wednesday's…
Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Wednesday, August 12Alejandro Zúñiga - August 12, 2020
Costa Rica announced eight new coronavirus-related deaths over the past day for a total of 263, according to official data…
Chambers launch campaigns to encourage Costa Rican tourismAlejandro Zúñiga - August 12, 2020
The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) has launched the second phase of "Vamos a Turistear," its campaign dedicated to domestic…