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Guatemalans Vote in Presidential Runoff


A private security guard stands in front of campaign signs of Otto Perez Molina, presidential candidate of the Patriotic Party, center, and Manuel Baldizon, presidential candidate of the Democratic Freedom Revival party in Guatemala City, November 5, 2011

A private security guard stands in front of campaign signs of Otto Perez Molina, presidential candidate of the Patriotic Party, center, and Manuel Baldizon, presidential candidate of the Democratic Freedom Revival party in Guatemala City, November 5, 2011

Guatemalans are voting for a new president in Sunday's runoff election.

The latest public opinion polls have former general Otto Perez Molina leading businessman Manuel Baldizon by a sizeable margin in a race to succeed President Alvaro Colom.

Perez, of the right-wing Patriotic Party, won more votes than Baldizon, of the Democratic Freedom Rival Party, in the September election, but not the required majority to avoid a runoff.

Both candidates have campaigned to crack down on crime, especially that fueled by drug cartels and gangs.

The new president is set to take office in mid-January.

If elected, Perez would be the first military man to lead the country since its return to democracy in 1986.

The former military general commanded troops during the Guatemala's civil war which lasted from 1960 through 1996. More than 200,000 people disappeared or were killed during that time.

Perez has denied that there were massacres or genocide during that time. He has never been charged with any wartime atrocities.

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

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