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Retired General Leads in Guatemala Election


Guatemala's Patriot Party (PP) presidential candidate Otto Perez Molina casts his ballot in Guatemala City, September 11, 2011.

Guatemala's Patriot Party (PP) presidential candidate Otto Perez Molina casts his ballot in Guatemala City, September 11, 2011.

Guatemalan election officials say retired General Otto Perez has taken the lead in the presidential election with 37 percent support with only about 3 percent of the votes counted.

Guatemalans looking for relief from poverty and out-of-control crime went to the polls Sunday to choose a new president.

Pre-election opinion polls favored 61-year-old Perez of the Patriotic Party as the leading candidate, but with far less than the 50-percent support needed to avoid a runoff in November.

Perez will likely face conservative businessman Manuel Baldizon in a second round.

The campaigns have focused on who will do the best job in controlling crime, primarily linked to drug trafficking.

The winner will take over in January, replacing President Alvaro Colom, who is barred by law from running for re-election.

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

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