Colom secures Guatemala top job

President-elect faces tough task of overhauling security and judicial systems.

    Colom has promised to tackle endemic poverty, rampant corruption and violent crimes [AFP]

    A day after winning the run-off, Colom urged all Guatemalans to unite behind his plans to reduce poverty and end ethnic divisions.



    Crime the issue in Guatemala

    "We will work to attain a national brotherhood with our 23 indigenous groups," he said on Monday. "This will be a great opportunity to unify the country."


    Colom, of the centre-left National Unity of Hope party and an ordained Mayan minister, said he would ask the Mayan Elders National Council, a group of spiritual leaders, for guidance.


    'Constructive opposition' 


    In a concession speech on Sunday night, Molina, who ran on a tough anti-crime platform, pledged to be "a constructive opposition" and work together with the new government to fight crime.


    "We're willing to keep fighting the war against impunity, the war against corruption and against violence"

    Otto Perez Molina, losing candidate

    "We're willing to keep fighting the war against impunity, the war against corruption and against violence," he said.


    Guatemala has one of the highest murder rates in the world and about 6,000 people were murdered in the country last year.


    About 50 candidates and supporters were killed before the first round of voting, and a further five political murders were reported since then.


    The country has been plagued by violence for much of its recent history.


    The army ruled the Central American country for decades until the mid-1980s and committed hundreds of killings.


    As many as 200,000 people are thought to have been killed during 36 years of civil war before the government and left-wing rebels made peace in 1996.


    The country is a major transit point for cocaine shipped to the US, and drug cartels have grown in influence in recent years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    FGM: The last cutting season

    FGM: The last cutting season

    Maasai women are spearheading an alternative rite of passage that excludes female genital mutilation.

    'No girl is safe': The mothers ironing their daughters' breasts

    Victims of breast ironing: It felt like 'fire'

    Cameroonian girls are enduring a painful daily procedure with long lasting physical and psychological consequences.

    Could mega-dams kill the mighty River Nile?

    Could mega-dams kill the mighty River Nile?

    For Ethiopia, a new dam holds the promise of much-needed electricity; for Egypt, the fear of a devastating water crisis.