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Colom, Perez to Face Off in Guatemalan Presidential Runoff


The top two candidates in Guatemala's presidential election - a businessman and a former general - are headed for a run-off, as no candidate won outright in the election Sunday.

With a majority of ballots counted, election officials say center-left businessman Alvaro Colom is leading with 28 percent of the vote, followed by retired General Otto Perez Molina with about 25 percent.

The other 12 candidates are trailing far behind. They include Nobel laureate and Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchu.

The presidential runoff is set for November 4.

Colom, a businessman and head of the National Unity of Hope party, has pledged to increase social spending to alleviate poverty. Perez of the Patriotic Party has promised to crack down on crime by hiring more police and using the military to fight drug gangs.

The election winner succeeds outgoing President Oscar Berger.

Sunday's balloting was peaceful, but violence during the campaign killed about 50 people. Victims included candidates and party activists and family members. It was the deadliest political campaign since the end of Guatemala's 36-year civil war in 1996.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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