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Guatemala leader divorces so wife can run

GUATEMALA CITY, Mar 22 – Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom and his wife Sandra Torres de Colom have filed for divorce to avert a constitutional flap over her eligibility to run for the presidency, officials said Monday.

The divorce papers were filed March 11 in family court, according to Edwin Escobar, a spokesman for the country\’s supreme court.

Torres, who announced her candidacy earlier this month, is supported by an alliance of the governing National Unity of Hope (UNE) party and the right-wing Grand National Alliance (GANA).

Opponents had argued that Torres could not run for president because, according to the Guatemala\’s constitution, close blood relatives of the president and those of "second level of affinity" are banned from running.

The main right-wing Patriot Party (PP) opposition candidate, Otto Perez Molina, called the divorce a "fraud" in a statement released to the newspaper Prensa Libre.

Perez Molina said in the statement that "we will not allow them to mock the law" with this move.

The divorce papers, which indicated a mutual desire for separation, came despite previous comments from the president that divorce was not an option and that his wife was eligible to run.

In her announcement of her candidacy earlier this month Torres said she decided to run "for the people, for my country, for the elderly, children, disabled, abandoned, orphaned, for all the needy in Guatemala."

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The Constitutional Court, which would rule on eligibility, must decide on another case in the candidacy of Zury Rios, daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled from 1982-1983.

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