Candidates tied ahead of Guatemala runoff - poll

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GUATEMALA CITY, Oct 6 (Reuters) A former general, who wants to use the Army to end growing violence in Guatemala is neck and neck with his center-left rival heading into a November presidential runoff, according to a new poll.

The survey by CID-Gallup showed 44.7 per cent support for Alvaro Colom, a soft-spoken economist who promises to fight poverty if elected in the November. 4 vote.

Ex-Gen Otto Perez Molina, who wants the power to declare states of emergency backed by the Army in crime-hit areas, was favoured by 42.1 per cent of people in the poll published in the Prensa Libre newspaper today.

The poll's 3.1 per cent margin of error means the candidates are effectively tied.

Colom, a chain-smoking businessman whose party has struggled to rid its ranks of drug gangs, led Perez Molina by 4 percentage points in the first round of voting on September 9.

A poll last week gave Perez Molina, who commanded troops in one of the most violent areas during Guatemala's 36-year civil war, a lead of almost nine per cent points.

REUTERS PY RK2222

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