Til death or elections do us part: Guatemalan first lady to divorce for presidential bid

March 22, 2011

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom and wife Sandra Torres have filed a request for “divorce by mutual consent” to allow the first lady to run in September’s presidential election, the judiciary said Monday.

“The request for divorce by mutual consent was presented on March 11” and will be handled by family court Judge Mildred Roca, Supreme Court spokesman Edwin Escobar told reporters.

Courts must rule on a petition for divorce by mutual consent in less than one month.

If the pair are declared to be divorced and the court’s ruling stands, Sandra Torres will have circumvented the constitutional article that says that the spouse of the president may not run for the presidency.

Article 186 of the Guatemalan Constitution prohibits the immediate – and many other – relatives of the president from vying for the presidency.

So far, neither Colom nor his wife has made any statement with regard to the divorce petition, a strategy that had been put forward weeks ago in an unofficial manner by members of the parties supporting the first lady’s candidacy.

Torres announced on March 8 her decision to become a presidential candidate for a coalition of the governing UNE party and the Great National Alliance.

Colom said three weeks ago that the legal separation from his wife to allow her to run for president was not an option.
UNE spokesman Fernando Barillas in remarks Monday morning to the media said that the news about the divorce of the first couple was “an invention” of the opposition, and he insisted that Torres “has no legal impediment” to becoming a candidate.
Colom and Torres married in February 2003 after a six-month romantic relationship.

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