Guatemala election: Comedian Jimmy Morales poised to become president

Guatemalan presidential candidate Jimmy Morales addresses supporters in September in Guatemala City.

Story highlights

  • Jimmy Morales tells CNN en Español his background as a comedian is a benefit
  • "I think it is helping us with our message about a new face for Guatemala," he says.
  • Officials say Morales won more than 67% of votes in Sunday's election

Guatemala City (CNN)Comedian-turned-politician Jimmy Morales is poised to become Guatemala's next president.

Morales, 46, won more than 67% of votes in Sunday's presidential election, election officials said.
    Advisers at some points during his campaign urged him to seem more serious, Morales said.
    But he told CNN en Español on Monday that he knew his background as a comedian was a benefit and not a burden.
    "If the headlines had said a businessman is running for president, it would not have had the same impact. .... I think it is helping us with our message about a new face for Guatemala, an honest face," he said.
    Speaking from Guatemala's capital Monday, Morales told CNN en Español he had a message for Guatemalans living in the United States.
    "You did not vote, but yes, you counted," he said. "The support that you gave us, calling your family and friends, counted in a transcendental way so that we are in this position today."
    The National Convergence Front's Morales jumped into the political scene in 2011 with a failed run for mayor of Mixco, a Guatemala City suburb.
    "We have a great responsibility. ... This mandate that we are receiving is to fight against corruption," Morales said as results came in Sunday night.
    For naysayers who are skeptical of his ability to lead the country, he had a clear answer.
    "I have been asked if we have the capacity to govern, and we have been emphatic in saying that alone -- no -- but with the blessing of God, and the support of the people, we are sure that yes, we can. Because Guatemala has made a choice that it wants a change," he said.
    Former first lady Sandra Torres, 59, who won less than 33% of votes, conceded late Sunday night.
    "Guatemala has serious problems. But the people made their choice. We respect it, and we wish great success for Mr. Morales," she said.
    Torres, former first lady from 2008 to 2011, is with the National Unity of Hope party. She is divorced from former President Álvaro Colom.
    Both candidates ran on the promise of cleaning up the country.
    Guatemala, a country of 15 million, is reeling from a corruption scandal that has prompted the resignation of its president, vice president and more than a dozen Cabinet members, ministers and government officials.
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    President Otto Pérez Molina submitted his resignation in September, two days after the Guatemalan Congress voted in favor of stripping the former military commander of his prosecutorial immunity as head of state. Pérez Molina, who was arrested shortly afterward, has maintained his innocence and said the accusations against him were politically motivated.
    Sunday's election was Guatemala's ninth since the Central American country returned to democracy after a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.