1st LD: Giammattei wins Guatemala's presidential runoff: preliminary results

  • 1st LD: Giammattei wins Guatemala's presidential runoff: preliminary results

1st LD: Giammattei wins Guatemala's presidential runoff: preliminary results

Many Guatemalans are fed up with the political class after investigations by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a United Nations -backed anti-corruption body, led to the arrest of then-President Otto Perez in 2015, and then threatened to unseat his successor Morales, a former TV comedian.

Electoral court president Julio Solorzano urged citizens to avoid unrest if the vote doesn't go their way, saying that preliminary results would be published in real time on the court's official website to provide transparency.

Al Jazeera's John Holman, detailing from neighboring Mexico, said Giammattei has a notoriety of being hardliner regarding battling culpability in the nation.

He had polled nearly 58.5 percent with a lead of 550,000 votes and only a few thousand left to count when the court declared him the victor.

"It will be a great honor to serve as the president of the country for this humble citizen", Giammattei said in his victory speech.

Giammattei came second with 14 percent.

The victor of Guatemala's presidential election, Alejandro Giammattei, talks during an interview with Reuters in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 11, 2019. The second round of presidential elections witnessed a turnout of around 41%. Investigative site Nomada branded Giammattei "impulsive. despotic, tyrannical. capricious, vindictive" - and worse.

"The next president faces a lose-lose situation when it comes to managing the deal with the United States", she said.

Guatemalan refugees are one of the main groups reaching the United State's southern border seeking asylum, an issue that has dogged President Donald Trump since his inauguration and has only worsened in the last several months following on-month increases in the number of people reaching the border and mass criticism against his administration's policies concerning the treatment of migrants, particularly children, once they make it to the United States.

The Central American country's new president will be under huge 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-stricken country.

But rejecting the migration pact would run the "risk of retaliation from Trump", Grais-Targow said, after the U.S. leader threatened a travel ban, tariffs and remittance fees if Guatemala didn't bend to his will.

Remittances from Guatemalans in the USA are a crucial part of the economy, reaching a record $9.3 billion previous year.

In the lead up to the election, both candidates said they opposed the deal, arguing that Guatemala - a country plagued by poverty and violence - does not have the capacity to process the asylum requests and even less so to look after the applicants or return them to their home countries if their requests are rejected.

According to the World Bank, remittances account for 12 percent of the country's GDP.

On July 6, Morales' administration signed an agreement with the US that would require Salvadorans and Hondurans to request asylum in Guatemala if they cross through the country to reach the U.S.

Around half the killings are blamed on drug trafficking and extortion operations carried out by powerful gangs.

Guatemalans aren't subject to Mr Trump's proposed migrant measures, but given that poverty in some indigenous areas reaches 80 per cent, many embark on the journey in search of the "American dream" despite the dangers. At least 1% of Guatemala's population of about 16 million people has left the country this year.

And in June, a woman and three children died from heat and dehydration in Texas.

The former attorney-general, Thelma Alana, and Azury Ríos, the daughter of the late military ruler, Refrain Ríos Mont, were barred from running by Guatemala's constitutional court, angering those who were planning on voting for them.

More than 250,000 Guatemalans were detained between October 2018 and July this year for trying to enter the United States illegally, Washington's embassy said.