Anger as Guatemala votes amid graft scandals

The wave of political turmoil that toppled Guatemala's president has overshadowed tomorrow's vote to elect a new leader an election many fear could put a lid on the anti-corruption drive.

Guatemala City: The wave of political turmoil that toppled Guatemala's president has overshadowed tomorrow's vote to elect a new leader an election many fear could put a lid on the anti-corruption drive.

Tens of thousands who demonstrated for the ouster of President Otto Molina Perez got part of their wishes when the president resigned to face possible corruption charges in a customs fraud scheme. He was spending the weekend in a military lockup.

But a second major demand wasn't met: the postponement of the election that many said offered little alternative to the old guard.

"The people are rejecting this political system, the mafia takeover of democracy. They feel like voting is simply selecting the next person who will loot the country," said Manfredo Marroquin, president of the influential civic group Citizen Action.

"They are not rejecting democracy," Marroquin said. "What they're demanding is to reset, run an anti-virus and start over from scratch."

Leading in most polls with roughly 30 percent backing is Manuel Baldizon, a wealthy 44-year-old businessman and longtime politician. His running mate is accused by prosecutors of influence trafficking, but as a candidate enjoys immunity from prosecution.

Baldizon's most competitive rivals are a comedian with no political experience, a former first lady and the daughter of an ex-dictator accused of genocide.

If none of the 14 candidates reaches 50 per cent, a runoff will be held October 25. 

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