Divorce 'ploy' costs former Guatemalan first lady her presidential ambition

A presidential bid by former first lady Sandra Torres has been derailed by a Guatemalan court, which ruled that her divorce from President Alvaro Colom was a political ploy rather than a genuine separation.

The unanimous ruling, upholding judgments by lower courts, apparently puts an end to a saga that has gripped the troubled Central American nation since March, when Ms Torres tear-fully announced the split, claiming she was putting her love for Guatemala above her love for Mr Colom.

Article 186 of Guatemala's constitution prohibits close family members of sitting presidents from running for the country's highest office. This was intended to end the decades of corrupt and often brutal right-wing oligarchic rule that has blighted the country. Ms Torres, 52, and Mr Colom, 60, are both social democrats with strong ties to former left-wing rebels.

The constitutional court has still to publish the 60-page ruling in which it explains its reasons, but court president Alejandro Maldonado told journalists that Article 186 "covers spouses of the president of the republic throughout the entire period of the presidency". There is no right of appeal.

Ms Torres appeared before the court last week to argue her case. "I am no one's wife," she told the hearing, as crowds of supporters gathered outside. "I have no kinship with the President. I am a single mother with four children."

Ms Torres, often viewed as the political mastermind behind her husband's presidency, attacked the impartiality of the two lower courts that had previously ruled her presidential campaign unconstitutional, saying they "are at the service of an economic power that does not pay nor has paid taxes but which imposes rulers on the people".

She also warned that the earlier judgments prohibiting her from running in the September poll "destroy aspirations for a free and democratic election" by frustrating the political will of more than a million Guatemalans who, according to polls, would vote for her.

The presidential divorce, concluded in April, has been hugely controversial in Guatemala. The conservative Patriot Party described it as electoral fraud while another presidential candidate, Adela Camacho, warned that allowing the former first lady to run in would amount to a de facto revision of the constitution. Just weeks before he and his wife announced that they would be splitting, even Mr Colom admitted that such a tactic would be "immoral".

Elected on his promise of helping the poor, Mr Colom has had problems financing his social programmes. His government has also been overwhelmed by escalating gang warfare and the violence from drug cartels that use the country as a staging posts from the Andean backwaters where coca is grown to the US where cocaine is consumed.

Ms Torres was trailing her right-wing rival, retired general Otto Pérez Molina, of the Patriot Party, whose poll lead has been as wide as 30 points.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn