May 14, 2019 / 2:03 AM / 11 days ago

Guatemala court bars ex-dictator's daughter from presidential race

FILE PHOTO: Zury Rios (C), daughter of former military Guatemalan military dictator Efrain Rios Montt, arrives during his funeral at a cemetery, in Guatemala City, Guatemala April 1, 2018. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala’s top court said on Monday that it had barred the daughter of former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt from taking part in presidential elections in June.

The Constitutional Court rejected a challenge by Montt’s daughter, right-wing politician Zury Rios, to a lower court’s decision to block her candidacy, basing its decision on an article of the constitution that bars close relatives of coup leaders from top office.

“The measure limiting a close relative from assuming the position of president or vice president of the republic is logical because it prioritizes the common good over individual interest,” the court said in a statement.

A lawyer for Rios, who was vying to succeed President Jimmy Morales, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Rios said in an interview with local television that she had not yet been formally notified of the decision and would pursue an international appeal.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal will have 24 hours to revoke Rios’ registration, Martin Guzman, the constitutional court’s secretary general, said in a press conference.

The constitution prohibits relatives within four degrees of the architects of coups, armed revolutions and similar movements from seeking the nation’s top offices, the constitutional court said.

Rios, who had planned to represent the Valor party, also sought the presidency in 2015. She was among the frontrunners for the presidency but trailed behind Thelma Aldana, the former attorney general, in polls.

Her father, Rios Montt, was convicted in 2013 of genocide and crimes against humanity. But barely a week later, judges overturned the sentence.

Rios Montt, who headed a junta that removed President Angel Guevara from power in 1982, died last year at the age of 91.

Reporting by Enrique Garcia; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Nick Macfie

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