Ex-dictator in Guatemala trails in vote

November 11, 2003|By COX NEWS SERVICE

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala - Former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's bid to win the presidency at the ballot box has apparently failed, as partial results show him trailing badly behind two other candidates who will likely meet in a December runoff.

With about two-thirds of the ballots counted from Sunday's election, former Guatemala City Mayor Oscar Berger, a pro-business conservative, had 38.4 percent of the vote, followed by center-left candidate Alvaro Colom with 27.6 percent and Rios Montt with 16.9 percent.

Elections officials said final results might not be known until today, as their work was slowed by an extremely heavy turnout, estimated at 80 percent of Guatemala's roughly 5 million registered voters.

If no candidate wins an outright majority, the top two finishers will face off in a Dec. 28 runoff.

After a bloody campaign in which more than 20 activists and candidates were killed, the election was marred by sporadic violence.

Two women were crushed to death when frustrated voters stampeded one polling station, while several boxes containing completed ballots were burned in a melee at another.

A top aide to Colom was also shot in the hand and leg in an attack by unidentified assailants the night before the election.

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