New Guatemala president won’t be decided until November now

By September 14, 2011

Guatemala (MNN) — Guatemala's September 11 presidential elections yielded no clear results. A run-off vote is scheduled for November 6.

None of the candidates received the 50-percent plus one vote needed to win the election. For months, many have targeted Otto Perez Molina, a former army general and runner-up in the 2007 presidential elections, as a shoe-in win for the presidency, and popularity polls seemed to indicate the race would end in his favor.

But Molina only won 36-percent of the vote, and businessman Manuel Baldizon received 23-percent.

While the country still waits with baited breath, ministries are breathing a sigh of relief, grateful that the threat of violence surrounding the election never came to fruition.

"There was a little bit that happened in regard to the Guatemala city mayor elections happening at the same time. (There was a building that was kind of ransacked because they were saying that the votes were maybe miscounted.) But that was really it," says a joyful Amy Norton, Director of Programs for Orphan Outreach. "We're so thankful that there was no violence around these elections."

Although the 2007 elections were relatively peaceful as well, ministries were not taking any chances in the nation with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Orphan Outreach specifically arranged their mission trip schedule to avoid Guatemala two weeks before and two weeks after the election. Buckner International rescheduled trips to keep any volunteers away from the country from August to November.

Now that the election has come and gone with little disturbance however, Orphan Outreach is hopeful that the run-off experience a similar environment. The only major issues that Norton says may come up are demonstrations.

"A lot of times people use their voice by demonstrating. That can sometimes be demonstrating at the airport, and they close the airport down, [or] demonstrating on roads that keep you from being able to travel in and out of the city."

That would make any travel to Orphan Outreach programs difficult, but fortunately Orphan Outreach planned ahead for a run-off as well. They have a trip in October and one in December, but nothing directly around the run-off time.

For now, "We continue moving forward with everything that we're doing," says Norton. "We have children going to school that we sponsor, and those kids are still going to school. Really, all the ministry that we do will continue to move forward during the election."

Orphan Outreach will continue to be a beacon of hope for children as they present them with the love of Christ, and a strong, Christ-centered anchor for the communities in which they work.

"We just ask for everyone's continued prayers for no violence during the elections, and most importantly that we have prayer for actually the outcome of these elections. We just pray for the Lord's hands to be in the midst of them and for the person who will be a good leader for Guatemala to rise to the top."

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