Observer report cites interference by parties and judicial system in Guatemalan elections

2023-07-19 19:08:33

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission said some political parties tried to use highly isolated errors to cast doubt on the reliability of Guatemala’s elections and suggest there were systemic problems. After a review, the observers reaffirmed the results offered by the electoral authorities that placed the conservative Sandra Torres and the leftist Bernardo Arévalo in a second round.

When presenting a report on Wednesday before a regular session of the organization’s Permanent Council in Washington, the mission explained that during the process “there were attempts to ignore the electoral will expressed at the polls, an extreme judicialization of the process, the interference of non-electoral institutions in the electoral process, the disqualification of candidacies and cases of violence in the context of the electoral process”.

“The Mission considers that the abuse of legal instruments by actors dissatisfied with the results introduced a high degree of uncertainty into the electoral process and put the country’s democratic stability at risk,” it added.

In an addition outside the report, the head of the mission, Ambassador Eladio Loizaga, pointed out that the Seed Movement, which is running Arévalo, filed a “serious” complaint in which he said that his supporters and the party are being intimidated and persecution.

The observers recalled how some political parties tried to reverse the will of the citizens by questioning “the fidelity of the results”, in addition to “sowing unfounded doubts in the process”, tendentiously using even very isolated cases of errors in the minutes to make it appear that there were problems. systematic in scrutiny.

The mission said that the elections took place in general calmly, with a high presence of prosecutors from the political parties and a transmission of results that “worked satisfactorily.”

Guatemalans went to the polls on June 25 to elect a new president and his respective vice-president and choose deputies from Congress, the Central American Parliament, mayors and municipal corporations. In the presidential bid, since no one reached half of the required valid votes, the two most voted —Torres and Arévalo— will face each other in a second round on August 20.

After the first results, the mission recalled that the Constitutional Court granted a provisional protection to nine political parties so that the Electoral Boards could hold second hearings to review the scrutiny of the records that included the results of the votes, compare them and correct errors. In addition, the Court also ordered to suspend the qualification and official results.

The mission “verified that after the additional review and comparison, which were not contemplated in the legislation (which only contemplates a review on election day), the final results were almost identical to the preliminary results, with minimal changes.” assured.

The electoral process has been one of the most eventful in the country’s modern era, which included the exclusion of candidates, the prosecution of the process, and even the interference of the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office that sought to leave Arévalo out of the race.

The mission said that it remains concerned about what remains of the electoral process, legal certainty, the possibility of the “arbitrary disqualification” of some options emanating from the vote, the effects of criminal investigations on party members and the deepening polarization in the last weeks.

In his report, Ambassador Loizaga explained that the mission worked for almost six months on the process, including on technological aspects such as the transmission of preliminary results or a workshop on disinformation and elections.

On election day, the mission was made up of 90 observers from 20 countries who witnessed the elections in the 22 departmental electoral boards, one district and one located in Arlington Virginia, United States, where the votes were collected abroad.

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