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Retired general assumes presidency in Guatemala

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Retired general Otto Perez was sworn in Saturday as president of Guatemala, assuming power in a country awash in drug-related violence that he has promised to tackle with the military’s help.

A veteran of a bloody war against leftist insurgents, Perez, 61, is the first military man to rule Guatemala since the armed forces handed over power to civilians 25 years ago.

He replaced social democrat Alvaro Colom, receiving the sash of office for a four-year term in a ceremony at a sports complex south of the capital attended by presidents of neighboring Latin American countries and other dignitaries.

In a chilling reminder of the challenges facing Perez, a recently re-elected member of Guatemala’s congress, Valentin Leal, was gunned down in the historic center of Guatemala City on Friday by assassins on motorbikes.


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