Suspension of president-elect’s party delivers new blow to Guatemala’s electoral process

By José Carlos Móvil

Guatemala City, Aug 28 (EFE).- The electoral process in Guatemala suffered a new blow on Monday with the suspension of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo de León’s Movimiento Semilla (Seed Movement) party.

The “provisional” suspension of Arévalo de León’s party by the Guatemalan Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) gives rise to a number of questions ahead of his inauguration scheduled for Jan. 14.

“Guatemala (is) experiencing dark hours,” said former Attorney General Thelma Aldana, who was not allowed to contest as a presidential candidate for Movimiento Semilla in 2019.

“Earlier they were bullets. Now they are judges and prosecutors attacking democracy,” added Aldana, exiled in the United States.

Movimiento Semilla’s suspension, confirmed to EFE by the social democratic political party, was ordered by the Citizens’ Registry, a department of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

The party’s suspension overshadowed the release of the official results of the Aug. 20 presidential elections by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal certifying Arévalo de León’s victory.

However, the magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal dissociated themselves from the order sent by one of its officials to suspend Movimiento Semilla.

At a press conference, the magistrates said that they were not “aware” of the decision to suspend Movimiento Semilla, ordered by the head of the Citizens’ Registry, Ramiro Muñoz.

Movimiento Semilla told EFE that it had been officially notified of its suspension though the magistrates said that they were “in session” during the last few hours and did not know the case officially.

According to the magistrates, the political party has three days to appeal the decision, since they will not act ex officio as the case does not correspond to them.

Amid the uncertainty that the suspension generates with regard to the electoral process and their lack of knowledge of the matter, the magistrates declared that Arévalo de León would be president on Jan. 14 for a four-year period.

“The citizens said it at the polls, and we are guaranteeing it today,” TSE’s President Irma Palencia said.

Meanwhile, magistrate Gabriel Aguilera said that the news of the day was the certification of Arévalo de León’s victory by the court.

Arévalo de León won the presidential runoff on Aug. 20 after beating former first lady Sandra Torres Casanova by almost one million votes.

However, according to experts, Arévalo de León and his party have been under siege since July 12 due to an alleged case of false signatures during the founding of the party in 2018.

Both the top officials of the attorney general’s office and the judge who ordered Movimiento Semilla’s suspension, Fredy Orellana, have been sanctioned by the United States on charges of “undermining” justice. EFE


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