BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 December, 2003, 02:09 GMT
Guatemala victor calls for unity
President-elect of Guatemala Oscar Berger waves a flag in victory after hearing early results
Berger said the election showed Guatemalans wanted democracy
The president-elect of Guatemala, Oscar Berger, has called for unity following his victory in Sunday's election.

"Let us all take each other's hand and walk together in the same direction," he said in his victory speech.

Mr Berger said he would ask indigenous leader and Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu to join his government, to help work towards a more just country.

Final results showed Mr Berger, 57, a conservative former mayor of Guatemala City, won 54% of the vote.

On Monday his centre-left rival Alvaro Colom admitted defeat.

It is the second presidential election since a peace deal ended Guatemala's 36-year civil war in 1996.

Tight security

At his first news conference, Mr Berger said he would invite Rigoberta Menchu to take an active part in his government to help work toward a better Guatemala.

Rigoberta Menchu
Human rights campaigner Rigoberta Menchu may join the cabinet
He said he would also include other indigenous people in his administration.

Rigoberta Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, receiving international acclaim for her work as a human rights campaigner.

Mr Berger, who heads the Great National Alliance party (Gana), said the election showed that Guatemalans wanted democracy.

He also promised to improve access to clean water, education and health care for all citizens.

"There will not be a village without access to water, without access to a school, without access to a health centre," he said.

"This is our main concern."


International observers said Sunday's run-off passed off peacefully without the violence and intimidation seen in November's first round.

Security had been tight amid fears that supporters of the former military ruler, General Efrain Rios Montt, would again take to the streets to hamper the election process after their candidate was defeated in the first round.

And BBC correspondent Greg Morsbach says one of the first challenges Mr Berger will have to face is to decide what to do with the former dictator.

Many Guatemalans are demanding the general be brought to justice for alleged crimes, such as corruption and murder, committed during his presidency in the early 1980s.

The former military ruler loses his parliamentary immunity from prosecution on 14 January, when he has to give up his seat as a member of Guatemala's Congress.

The BBC's Peter Greste
"Guatemala has a new president"

Guatemala general beaten in poll
11 Nov 03  |  Americas
Press hails Guatemala voters
10 Nov 03  |  Americas
Establishing Guatemalan democracy
08 Nov 03  |  Americas
General to run in Guatemala
31 Jul 03  |  Americas
Guatemala City hit by riot
25 Jul 03  |  Americas
Guatemala coup leader defies ban
08 Jun 03  |  Americas
Country profile: Guatemala
11 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific