GUATEMALA CITY –
Guatemala’s top electoral authority said Sunday it blocked the suspension of president-elect Bernardo Arevalo’s Seed Movement, at least temporarily giving the party back its legal status and cutting off an attempt by opposing political forces to weaken Arevalo.
The decision by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal came days after the electoral registry suspended the party on a judge’s order. The attorney general’s office is investigating whether there was wrongdoing in the gathering of required signatures for the party’s formation years earlier.
The tribunal said the suspension could not stand because it did not come from an electoral body. Its decision holds until the official end of the electoral period Oct. 31, because Guatemala’s electoral law does not allow the suspension of a party during the electoral period.
The Seed Movement had also appealed the suspension through the normal court system, but so far without result. It is expected that come Nov. 1, the party could be suspended again.
The congressional leadership had already used the suspension of the Seed Movement last week to make its seven lawmakers, including Arevalo, independents, which bars them from leading legislative committees or holding other positions of leadership in the Congress.
Arevalo, a progressive lawmaker and academic, shocked Guatemala by making it into an Aug. 20 presidential runoff in which he beat former first lady Sandra Torres by more than 20 points. Ever since Arevalo achieved a surprise second-place finish among a crowded field in the first round of voting in June, his party has come under attack.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal recognized Arevalo as the winner and outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei has said he will begin the transition, but the attorney general’s office has been aggressively pursuing the Seed Movement on various fronts.
On Friday, the head of the Organization of American States’ electoral observation mission said the efforts appear aimed at keeping Arevalo from taking office in January.