Guatemala Court Rejects First Lady’s Bid For President; Torres Accused Of “Legal Fraud”

Guatemala's First Lady Sandra Torres next to former husband President Álvaro Colom.
Guatemala's First Lady Sandra Torres next to former husband President Álvaro Colom.
Guatemala's First Lady Sandra Torres next to former husband President Álvaro Colom.

The recently divorced first lady of Guatemala’s bid for president hit a road block on Wednesday after the country’s supreme electoral court disqualified her for “supposed legal fraud.”

First lady Sandra Torres divorced Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom in March so she could run for office as the candidate for Colom’s National Union of Hope party (UNE). A constitutional law in Guatemala prohibits the spouse and other relatives of the outgoing president to run for the presidency.

The divorce drew criticism from many individuals, organizations and political parties, who called it a sham and filed motions to block it. In May Guatemala’s constitutional court stopped all challenges to the divorce, but yesterday’s ruling added a new twist to the drama.

Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Court did not explain its reasoning for banning Torres from running. Jairo Flores, secretary general of the UNE, only said that the court had rejected Torres’s candidacy and that the party would appeal the ruling.

UNE Deputy Christian Boussinot acknowledged that the party does not have another candidate to run in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for September.

“We do not have a Plan B,” he said.

Torres has played an active role in Colom’s administration, including supervising the government’s poverty relief programs. The two had been married for eight before their politically motivated divorce earlier this spring.

“The love for Guatemala is the reason why the president and I put the interests of the country ahead of our own interests,” Torres said, after the divorce. “I am neither the first nor the last woman to divorce in this country, but the first to be divorced for Guatemala.”

If she were to be elected, Torres would become Guatemala’s first female president.

Recent opinion polls, however, show Torres lagging well behind frontrunner Gen. Otto Pérez of the right wing Patriot party (PP), who headed the poll with 42.5 percent. Torres only garnered 15.1 percent.

The first round of presidential elections takes place on September 11, but if no candidate receives the 50 percent majority than a run-off will be held in November. Besides the presidential election, Guatemalans will also be voting for a vice president, 158 deputies, 333 mayors and 20 representatives to the Central American Parliament.

Photo: Gobierno de Guatemala @ Flickr.

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