Guatemala City, Sept 7 (EFE).- Guatemala is in the midst of a transition of power between outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei and his successor, Bernardo Arévalo, amid controversy and uncertainty caused by the Attorney General’s Office’s intervention in the electoral process.
Here are five keys to understanding Guatemala’s tumultuous transition process and its protagonists:
1. AN OFFICIALIZED VICTORY
Arévalo and Carmen Herrera of the Seed Movement received their credentials from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal this week to serve as president and vice president from 2024 to 2028.
Arévalo affirmed that the electoral judges were a “bulwark” to defend the results of the June 25 and August 20 elections in the face of attempts by various actors to ignore their victory.
The certification of the electoral authorities came four days after Arévalo publicly denounced an attempted coup, promoted by the head of the Attorney General’s Office, Consuelo Porras, among others, to prevent him from taking office on January 14.
2. PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION BEGINS
Under the extraordinary supervision of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, the official transition process between Giammattei and Arévalo began on September 4.
Almagro was invited by Giammattei to come to Guatemala to oversee the process. The OAS secretary warned in an extraordinary meeting on September 1 that “any other option” than the inauguration of Arévalo on January 14 “will be considered a constitutional violation.”
The transition will begin in September and end on January 14 with the inauguration of Guatemala’s first social democratic government.
3. POTENTIAL THREAT FROM THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
Although the new authorities have been made official and the process of transfer of command has begun, experts and analysts do not rule out further action by the Public Prosecutor’s Office against the Seed Movement to prevent it from taking office, based on an alleged case of false signatures in 2018.
On Tuesday, after a meeting with Almagro, the Attorney General, Consuelo Porras, denied that a coup was underway and indicated that the “investigation” of the electoral case would continue.
The directors of the Public Prosecutor’s Office are subject to sanctions by the United States, accused of “undermining” justice in the Central American country.
Between July and September, Guatemalan prosecutors raided the headquarters of the president-elect’s political party and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, in addition to requesting the lifting of the immunity of its judges.
4. THE ROLE OF GIAMMATTEI
On August 20, the day of Arévalo’s victory in the second round of the elections, Giammattei sent a congratulatory message to Arévalo, promising an orderly transition once his victory was confirmed.
On the same day, however, the opposition and other sectors expressed growing concern, as evidenced by statements made to journalists.
“This government will hand over power on January 14, whenever Congress adjourns,” Giammattei said.
However, he added: “If otherwise, the session in Congress is delayed and there is a risk that the session to hand over power will not be held before 12 o’clock at night, we will hand over the position to the Congress of the Republic and we will withdraw the indictment.”