TV comic and self-styled outsider Jimmy Morales won election as Guatemala's next president Sunday, riding a wave of popular anger against the political class after huge anti-corruption protests helped oust the last government.
Morales claimed victory and his opponent, former first lady Sandra Torres, conceded defeat after official results showed him winning around 69 percent of the votes, with 94 percent of polling stations tallied.
"We recognize Jimmy Morales' triumph and we wish him success," Torres said. "Guatemala has serious problems, but the people made their choice and we respect it."
The runoff was held a month and a half after President Otto Perez Molina resigned and was jailed in connection with a sprawling customs scandal. His former vice president, Roxana Baldetti, has also been jailed in the multimillion-dollar graft and fraud scheme.
Alejandro Maldonado, a 79-year-old conservative who became vice president in May, is serving out the rest of Perez Molina's term, and handing over power on Jan. 14, 2016.
Before the vote, analysts had said Morales could hold a big advantage over because as an outsider he is seen as unblemished by a discredited political system.
"I believe Morales will win in the second round, irrespective of who joins him," said Gavin Strong, a Central America analyst at consultancy Control Risks.
Though the protests have died down since Perez Molina's resignation, many Guatemalans remain fed up with corruption and politics as usual, and Morales will face pressure to deliver immediately on widespread demands for reform.
"The important thing is that the next government avoids corruption," said Alexander Pereira, an insurance salesman who was the first to vote at one polling place. "I hope that the next government really makes a change. We had an achievement in kicking out the last government."
Javier Zepeda, executive director of the Chamber of Industry, said his business group had observed the vote and estimated turnout at around 45 percent to 50 percent, which would be down 20 points from the first round.
Morales and Torres were the top two vote-getters in the first round Sept. 6, when presumed front-runner Manuel Baldizon finished a surprising third — a result considered to be a rejection of Guatemala's political establishment in the wake of the corruption scandal.
The protests began in April after the corruption scandal involving bribery at the customs agency was unveiled by Guatemalan prosecutors and a U.N. commission that is investigating criminal networks in the country.
Morales, like Torres, promised to keep Attorney General Thelma Aldana, a key figure in the investigation, and the U.N. commission in place. He also vowed to strengthen controls and transparency, saying in a debate this past week that the government has controls and auditing powers at its disposal.
Al Jazeera with The Associated Press