Guatemalans vote in general election amid tensions
A woman votes in the primary school in Sibana, Retalhuleu Guatemala on June 16 [Jeff Abbott /Al Jazeera]
Guatemala City & Retalhuleu – Guatemalans began voting on Sunday morning in the country’s general election amid concerns of irregularities in recent days.
Nineteen candidates are in the race for president. Five others were barred from running during a chaotic campaign period. Voters are also electing all 160 legislators and hundreds of local officials.
National Unity of Hope party centrist candidate Sandra Torres leads the crowded field for president. A businesswoman and former first lady, she has focused her campaign on public investment and social programs.
Three right-wing candidates trail her in the polls: Vamos candidate Alejandro Giammattei, PAN-Podemos candidate Roberto Arzu, and Humanist party candidate Edmond Mulet.
Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples candidate Thelma Cabrera has been polling in fifth place. A social movement leader, she is one of three indigenous Maya presidential candidates.
If no single presidential candidate obtains an outright majority, as expected, the top two candidate will face off August 11 in a presidential runoff election.
Over the past week, a series of reported irregularities have generated concerns. In a press conference Saturday night, the country’s election tribunal condemned the circulation of misinformation, including reports of pre-marked falsified ballots.