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Guatemala anti-graft candidate to appeal ruling blocking her from ballot

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By Reuters
Guatemala anti-graft candidate to appeal ruling blocking her from ballot
FILE PHOTO: Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana participates in a news conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala, August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas   -   Copyright  Jose Cabezas(Reuters)

GUATEMALACITY (Reuters) – Guatemala’s former attorney general Thelma Aldana will seek to overturn a decision from the country’s top elections authority that would prevent the anti-corruption crusader from running for president, a top aide said on Tuesday.

A little over two months from the June vote, the electoral court rejected Aldana’s candidacy in a decision announced on Monday that cited an arrest warrant issued against her, which alleged irregularities during her tenure as chief prosecutor.

The electoral court case against Aldana, who served as attorney general from 2014 to 2018, was pursued by her political opponents.

Among the presidential front-runners in recent polls, Aldana has denied the charges and dismissed them as politically motivated.

“Why are there so many attacks? Because she represents a serious threat to the various economic, political and illicit interests that operate in the country,” Rotman Perez, Aldana’s campaign manager, told Reuters.

Perez said Aldana will opt for one of two options: ask the country’s Supreme Court to reinstate her on the ballot or seek an appeal with the Constitutional Court, Guatemala’s top judicial body.

He did not say when the presidential hopeful would make her next move.

Aldana, 63, leads the left-of-centre Seed Movement party and is currently in neighbouring El Salvador due to what she has described as political persecution.

Aldana led the field of presidential candidates with 28 percent ahead of the June 16 election in a recent Mitofsky poll, outpacing Zury Rios, the daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, and former First Lady Sandra Torres.

During her tenure as Guatemala’s top law enforcement official, Aldana helped uncover corruption cases that led to the conviction and imprisonment of ex-President Otto Perez.

She has also been a vocal supporter of the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG.

Current President Jimmy Morales, who has been a target of CICIG investigators, has ordered the body to end its work and leave the country.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by David Gregorio)