Sandra Torres

Court blocks Sandra Torres bid for Guatemala presidency

Ex-wife of president was accused of sham divorce so she could take over from husband.

A court in Guatemala has thrown out a bid for the presidency by former first lady Sandra Torres, who divorced her husband in an attempt skirt a law barring her from seeking the top job.

Torres had hoped to succeed her ex-husband Alvaro Colom as president for the centre-left UNE - National Union of Hope, although polls have shown her trailing the leading conservative candidate, ex-army general Otto Perez, by a wide margin.

A constitutional clause dating from Guatemala's transition to democracy in the mid-1980s after decades of autocratic rule prevents family members of the president taking power.

Jairo Flores, secretary general of the UNE, said the supreme elections court had rejected Torres's candidacy and the party would appeal the ruling. The elections tribunal has not yet publicly explained the rejection.

Opposition politicians blasted Torres's divorce, which she tearfully announced on 24 March. The leading rightwing Patriot party called it "electoral fraud."

An opinion poll on Wednesday showed Torres running second in the presidential race with support of 15.1% of voters. PP candidate Perez headed the poll with 42.5%.

A first round of presidential elections is scheduled for 11 September. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote a run-off will be held in November.

(Published by The Guardian - June 30, 2011)

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