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  • Zury Rios Sosa with her father Erfain Rios Montt in Guatemala City in 2013.

    Zury Rios Sosa with her father Erfain Rios Montt in Guatemala City in 2013. | Photo: EFE

Published 23 July 2015

Zury Rios Sosa has been given the green light to run for president, despite a law barring relatives of dictators aspiring to head the state.

Guatemala's Supreme Court has cleared the way for Zury Rios Sosa, daughter of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, to run for president in the country's upcoming general elections in September.

The decision from Guatemala's highest court on Wednesday will allow Rios Sosa to register with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal as a candidate for her father's Christian conservative Vision with Values party, known as VIVA, after the elections body rejected her candidacy.

According to Guatemala's constitution, relatives of dictators or de facto coup leaders are barred from running for president. The article has been invoked to reject Rios Sosa's candidacy three times on the basis of her being the daughter of a former dictator and convicted war criminal Rios Montt.

Rios Sosa, a former member of Guatemalan Congress, sought a Supreme Court injunction on July 16 regarding her candidacy after her party appealed the rejection of her bid to run for president.

“Today I presented an injunction against the Supreme Electoral Tribunal resolution forbidding my constitutional right to run for president.”

The Supreme Court decision must still be ratified.

The military regime of Rios Sosa's father, Efrain Rios Montt, which carried out a scorched earth campaign largely against the country’s Indigenous population, marked one of the bloodiest periods of Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

The former despot is accused of killing at least 1,771 Guatemalans, committing 1,400 human rights violations and displacing tens of thousands of Indigenous people.

RELATED: Guatemala: The World Bank, a Hydroelectric Dam, and Massacres

Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in May 2013, but the historic verdict and 80 year prison sentence was overturned just 10 days later, purportedly due to errors in process. During the trial, almost 100 witnesses testified over counts of rape, infanticide and the destruction of crops to induce starvation.

“New genocide trials begins this Thursday. General Rios Montt will appear by videoconference.”

Numerous tactics by the defense, namely alleged poor health, have delayed the trial which was intended to resume in January. The genocide trial is set to get underway on Thursday, despite Rios Montt being declared earlier this month mentally unfit to be re-tried on genocide charges. The former dictator will not be physically present at the court but rather via teleconference due to health reasons, his lawyers said. 

RELATED: Human Rights Organizations Fear Delay in Rios Montt Trial

When Rios Sosa announced her aspirations to govern the country to media in April, she declined to comment on how her father's legal case could affect her electoral campaign.

The election campaign for Guatemala's the upcoming Sept. 6 election has kicked off amid deepening political turmoil, including a wave of massive corruption scandals embroiling the government, fraud probes into high-ranking officials, and popular calls for the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina.  

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