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Guatemala's new leader gets down to business

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Guatemala's new leader gets down to business


Guatemala has elected a centre-left president, denying power to a former general who wanted to unleash the army to fight organised crime. Businessman Alvaro Colom was making his third stab at the presidency; he will be Guatemala’s first left-wing president since the end of the violent civil war in 1996.

“We will not waste this responsability,” he said. “We will start work immediately on forming a new government.”

His defeated opponent, retired general Otto Perez Molina, had campaigned on a tough platform against crime. He had promised to put more troops and police on the streets to fight crime. He told his supporters that he may have lost the battle, but the war goes on.

Guatemala is one of the most dangerous places on earth. The election campaign saw more than 50 party activists and candidates killed; Colom’s party was hardest hit with almost 20 of its members murdered. Many former right-wing paramilitaries from the civil war have simply moved into the drugs trade.

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