Just 3 percent of votes counted in Guatemala

Guatemalan election officials say retired Gen. Otto Pérez Molina has taken the lead in the presidential election with 37 percent support with only about 3 percent of the votes counted.

Guatemalans looking for relief from poverty and out-of-control crime went to the polls Sunday to choose a new president.

Pre-election opinion polls favored 61-year-old Pérez of the Partido Patriota as the leading candidate, but with far less than the 50-percent support needed to avoid a runoff in November.

Pérez will likely face conservative businessman Manuel Baldizon in a second round.

The country’s Tribunal Supremo Electoral issued the report on voting about 10:30 p.m.

The campaigns have focused on who will do the best job in controlling crime, primarily linked to drug trafficking.

The winner will take over in January, replacing President Álvaro Colom, who is barred by law from running for re-election. Pérez lost a tight race to Colom in 2007 when the contest went to a runoff.

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