Barricading the House
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Guatemala’s electoral court confirmed this week that President-elect Bernardo Arévalo was the winner of the country’s elections in August, a ruling that comes amid ongoing efforts by authorities to prevent the anti-corruption candidate from taking office, Agence France-Presse reported.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) said the results of the August presidential runoff are “validated, formalized and unchangeable.” It added that elected officials must take office in January as planned, or else there would be “a breach of the constitutional order.”
The court announcement came shortly after the prosecutor’s office said investigations concluded that the election of Arévalo, his vice-president and parliamentarians was “null and void” due to counting “anomalies” in the first round in June.
Arévalo, a dark horse candidate who pledged to fight graft in the Central American nation, surprised voters after coming in second place in the first round of voting in June behind his opponent, former First Lady Sandra Torres. He then had a landslide win in the second round in August.
But since then, Guatemala’s Attorney General Consuelo Porras, senior prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche and other officials have launched a series of legal challenges against his election victory, including suspending Arévalo’s Seed Movement party.
Porras, Curruchiche and Judge Fredy Orellana – who had ordered the suspension of Arévalo’s party – are all on a United States’ list of “corrupt actors.”
Arévalo has criticized the efforts as a “perverse coup d’état” by authorities to prevent him from taking office on Jan. 14. The post-election crisis has prompted many Guatemalans to take to the streets to demand the resignation of the three officials.
Meanwhile, the US, the European Union and a number of international organizations have expressed concern over the events, as well as condemned the efforts by Guatemalan prosecutors.
The Washington-based Organization of American States described the recent attempt to annul the results as “the worst form of democratic breakdown and the consolidation of a political fraud against the will of the people.”