Guatemalans prepare to vote in troubled presidential election

Guatemalans are preparing to go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, in an election marked by concerns of potential violence and fraud. The country has seen weeks of protests, led by dozens of civil society organizations, demanding an end of corruption and impunity.

More than seven million Guatemalans are eligible to vote in the election, and nearly 135,000 election observers have been deployed to monitor the process. The two candidates running for president are Sandino Salazar, a former conservative who is an ally of outgoing President Jimmy Morales, and Alejandro Giammattei, the former director of the country’s prisons system.

Despite weeks of street protests calling for an end to corruption and impunity, analysts are not expecting a victory for either candidate that would effectively overhaul the country’s political and economic system. Both candidates have sharp differences over how to tackle corruption and poverty, although both have promised to fight crime and improve conditions for the country’s indigenous population.

In addition to the presidential election, voters will also choose new mayors and representatives for Congress. The election is seen as a crucial test for the country’s democracy, and it comes at a time when Guatemala is in the midst of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. A recent United Nations report estimated that over 1 million Guatemalans are in need of urgent aid due to the country’s deepening poverty and insecurity.