Comedian Jimmy Morales leads in Guatemala polls



Comedian and political novice Jimmy Morales led the early count in Guatemala's presidential election, after a tumultuous campaign upended by the president's resignation and jailing over a corruption scandal.

With 31.9 percent of the ballots counted, Morales, who rose to fame playing the role of a simpleton who accidentally ends up becoming president, was on track to face fellow conservative Manuel Baldizon in a runoff on October 25.


In results that showed Guatemalans' exasperation with the traditional political elite, Morales had 25.8 percent against 19.7 percent for lawyer and businessman Baldizon, the long-time frontrunner.

Former first lady Sandra Torres, a social democrat, trailed them with 18.1 percent.

The race was rocked by the scandal that felled president Otto Perez, which sparked protests on a scale never before seen in the impoverished Central American nation.

Some protesters had called for the vote to be postponed until anti-corruption reforms could be implemented, but the national electoral tribunal rejected petitions for a delay -- triggering concern that many of the country's 7.5 million voters would opt to stay home.

The protest movement that has shaken Guatemalan politics since the scandal broke in April, drawing thousands into the streets for weekly demonstrations, was split over whether to take part in the polls.

An anti-election protest in the capital drew just a few dozen people on election day -- though several hundred demonstrated Saturday, some dressed in black and carrying cardboard coffins for a "stillborn" vote.

On Twitter, the hashtag "voting in mourning" was trending in Guatemala -- a slogan of reluctant participation.

"It was difficult deciding to vote, but I hope the
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