Aug 19, 2023
Guatemala progressive's presidential victory certified, but his party is suspended from operating
GUATEMALA CITY -- Guatemala’s top electoral tribunal declared progressive Bernardo Arévalo the winner of the country’s presidential elections on Monday, but the prospect of him taking office on Jan.
GUATEMALA CITY -- Guatemala’s top electoral tribunal declared progressive Bernardo Arévalo the winner of the country’s presidential elections on Monday, but the prospect of him taking office on Jan. 14 was unclear after another government body suspended all activities by his Seed Movement party.
No authority has explained exactly what the suspension, confirmed to The Associated Press by the party’s lawyer, will mean for the president elect.
The moves come after one of the most tumultuous elections in the Central American nation’s recent history, which has put to test Guatemala's democracy.
At a time when Guatemalans, hungry for change, have grown disillusioned with endemic corruption, Arévalo and other opponents of the country’s elite faced waves of judicial attacks in an attempt to knock them out of the race.
Arévalo, the little-known son of a former president, shocked much of the country by emerging as a frontrunner after the first round of presidential voting in June. He failed to get enough support to win outright and headed to a runoff vote against former first lady Sandra Torres. His rise came after a handful of other candidates were disqualified.
Arévalo rapidly gained support as he posed a threat to the country’s elite, campaigning on social progress and railing against corruption.
"This message generated, aroused hope, mobilized people who were fed up with corruption,” told the AP in a June interview.
He easily beat Torres in the Aug. 20 presidential runoff. According to the official count, the progressive candidate obtained 60.9% of the valid votes cast against 37.2% for the right-wing Torres.
His win has been the source of a legal back-and-forth between various governmental entities and courts, some staffed with officials that have been sanctioned by the United States on charges of corruption. He has faced allegations of voter fraud by Torres, legal challenges and more.
Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Tribunal outranks the electoral registry so the victory by Arévalo and the seats won in parliament by Seed Movement lawmakers in the first round elections appear confirmed. But the impact of the suspension of their party would have is unclear.
Guatemala’s attorney general’s office had opened an investigation into the Seed Movement for alleged irregularities in the gathering of signatures for its formation as a party. The electoral registry on Monday suspended the party for this reason.
The Seed Party now has three days to challenge the suspension and, in that case, the issue would be elevated to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which initially called the raise for Arévalo.
Arrest warrants for electoral officials and raids to the party’s headquarters, have caused concern in the international community and among Guatemalans.
Earlier this week, Organization of American States’ human rights commission asked that Guatemala provide protection for Arévalo after reports emerged of a possible plot to kill him.