Guatemala electoral court stands firm on bid to annul election

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Guatemala’s electoral court insisted Friday the results of elections won by anti-graft candidate Bernardo Arevalo were “unchangeable”, after the prosecutor’s office sought to annul them amid accusations of an “attempted coup.”

Political outsider Arevalo, who is slated to assume office on January 14, has faced an onslaught of legal challenges since his surprise second-round election victory in August, including attempts to suspend his political party and stop him from taking power.

The 65-year-old’s triumph and his pledge to fight graft are widely seen in Guatemala as alarming to the establishment political elite.

On Friday, prosecutor Leonor Morales said investigations have concluded that the election of Arevalo, his vice-president and parliamentarians was “null and void” due to counting “anomalies” in the first round in June.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) responded by saying “the results are validated, formalized and unchangeable.”

TSE president Blanca Alfaro told reporters the elected officials must assume office in January as planned or else there would be “a breach of the constitutional order.”

In Washington, the Organization of American States secretariat in a statement said it “condemns the attempted coup d’etat by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Guatemala.”

“The attempt to annul this year’s general elections constitutes the worst form of democratic breakdown and the consolidation of a political fraud against the will of the people,” the statement added.

The OAS urged outgoing president Alejandro Giammattei, the constitutional and supreme courts and Congress “to defend the institutions and constitutional order of the country by taking action against the perpetrators of this attack in order to preserve democracy in Guatemala.”

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