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Clashes break out in Guatemala amid election frustration

Election violence in Guatemala
Election violence in Guatemala Copyright Moises Castillo/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Moises Castillo/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Philip Andrew Churm with AP
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Election violence has broken out in parts of Guatemala as voters express frustration over presidential choices


There have been clashes in Guatemala as voters went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president and vice president. 

Voters also cast ballots in hundreds of congressional and local races.

It has been one of the most tumultuous electoral seasons in the Central American nation’s recent history.

In San Jose del Golfo in central Guatemala, locals would not allow the polling station to open, saying people from outside the municipality had been bused in to vote. When electoral authorities tried to open a new voting location in the town they were blocked by locals.

National Police used tear gas in an attempt to clear the crowd of about 300, which set people running and triggered some rock throwing by locals. Soldiers were also sent into the town.

Many Guatemalans had expressed disappointment with their presidential choices after three opposition candidates were excluded by authorities. A large number of null ballots were expected and experts said it could reduce turnout.

None of the 22 candidates polled the required 50% threshold for winning outright.  It means a second round of voting on August 20 between the top two finishers.

The vote comes amid widespread frustration with high crime, poverty and malnutrition; all factors in pushing tens of thousands of Guatemalans to migrate each year. 

There is also anger over official corruption and government moves against anti-corruption activists.

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