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BBC - Guatemala election: Comic Jimmy Morales elected president

A former TV comedian with no experience in government has won the run-off vote in Guatemala's presidential election.

Jimmy Morales polled 72% against the former first lady, Sandra Torres, who is seen by many as part of the country's unpopular political elite.

Ms Torres admitted defeat before all the votes were counted, as the margin of Mr Morales' lead became clear.

The vote took place a month after the resignation and arrest of President Otto Perez Molina.

He is accused of leading a corrupt network of politicians and customs officials.

The former president denies involvement in a scheme which saw businessmen pay bribes to evade customs charges.

Many voters see the comedian as a fresh start following nationwide protests that ousted Mr Perez Molina.

"As president I received a mandate, and the mandate of the people of Guatemala is to fight against the corruption that is consuming us. God bless and thank you," said Mr Morales after the count.

But turnout was low, despite calls for voters to help Guatemala overcome a serious political crisis.

Ms Torres ran government social programmes when her ex-husband Alvaro Colom was president between 2008 and 2012.

Mr Morales has regaled voters with stories about his humble origins and jokes from a 14-year period on a TV comedy show.

He has been criticised for some of his more far-fetched policies which include the tagging of teachers with a GPS device to ensure they attend classes and giving each Guatemalan child an iPhone.

His manifesto is only six pages - giving few indications as to how he might run the country - but he is known to favour low taxes and limited government.

Useless cowboy

One of Mr Morales' most famous comedy roles was that of a useless cowboy who becomes president by accident.

But now he faces a difficult task as his National Convergence Front (FCN) will have just 11 out of 158 seats in the next Congress.

Critics accuse Mr Morales of having no programme and no team, just the ability to exploit voter grievances.

His rise in the polls has been attributed to his targeting of public sector corruption which has engulfed the government.

One investigation found that former President Perez and his vice president were at the centre of the customs scam. Both deny any involvement.

Mr Perez was impeached, deprived of his presidential immunity and arrested in September. He is now in jail awaiting trial.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-34632485

Tag(s) : #Amérique Latine