October 28, 2011
Just over a week before the second round of presidential elections in Guatemala, more than half the members of the executive committee of the governing Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE) party have resigned. Earlier this week, 13 of the committee’s 24 members publicly submitted their resignations, in what the committee’s leadership signaled as a renewal within the ranks of its organization and others suggested was a sign of internal division.
In a statement issued by the UNE, deputy secretary-general Roberto Díaz-Durán said the resignations were meant to open the doors for “new leaders and sectors” in the leadership of the organization. “This does not signify a rupture within the party,” he said, “since some members of the Executive Committee will be renamed to their posts.” The statement also said the UNE remains “united, strong and working for the country’s most needy classes through its 48 elected representatives and 136 elected mayors.”
Some analysts remain skeptical. The political analyst Mario Martínez points to the resignations as “evidence of a weakening of the [governing] party structure.” Others point out that the shake-up in the executive committee will clear the way for Sandra Torres, ex-wife of current president Álvaro Colóm, to be named secretary-general of the UNE execand from there mount a campaign for the 2015 elections. Torres’ candidacy in this year’s election was vetoed by the Guatemalan Supreme Court; the UNE has since thrown its support behind Manuel Baldizón, candidate of the Libertad Democrática Renovada (LIDER) party.
On Sunday, November 6, Baldizón will run for presidency in a second-round vote against retired general Otto Pérez Molina, of the right-wing Partido Patriota (PP), who got 36.1 percent of the votes in the first round.
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