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World & Nation

Guatemala presidential candidate quits party, drops out of race

Guatemala presidential candidates

Manuel Baldizon, right, who Monday dropped out of the presidential race in Guatemala, is seen at a polling place in Peten, north of Guatemala City, during general elections Sept. 6.

(Orlando Estrada / AFP/Getty Images)

Guatemalan presidential candidate Manuel Baldizon quit his political party and dropped out of the race Monday, leaving a television comedian and former first lady to vie in the runoff to be the country’s next president.

Baldizon, of the Renewed Democratic Liberty party, told a local radio station that he couldn’t endorse the results of the Sept. 6 vote that put him in third place, but also in a statistical tie with former first lady Sandra Torres, though she garnered about 6,000 votes more than he did. Election authorities hadn’t officially announced who had placed second and Baldizon never asked for a recount before quitting.

That leaves Torres to face political neophyte Jimmy Morales in the Oct. 25 runoff. Morales placed first in the vote but only with 24%, and the winner needs 50% plus 1 to win. A former television comedian, he has never held office.

Baldizon told Radio Sonora that he could not endorse the electoral process and said the results “lacked legitimacy.” He said he wouldn’t throw his support behind either of the other two.

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“I can’t endorse anyone who would participate in a process marred by irregularities and corruption,” he said, but without giving specifics.

Baldizon, who lost to former President Otto Perez Molina in 2011, was considered the front-runner and likely next president until a customs fraud scandal brought down the government of Perez Molina, who resigned and is now in jail facing graft charges.

Baldizon was considered the establishment candidate, and his dramatic loss was attributed to voter anger with the status quo.


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