President-elect Bernardo Arevalo, centre, his Vice President Karin Herrera, left, and party's lawyer Andrea Reyes give a press conference in Guatemala City, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. The Central American country's top electoral tribunal declared Arevalo the winner of the presidential election just hours after another part of the government suspended his Seed Movement party. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Legal actions in Guatemala appear aimed at keeping president-elect from taking power


The head of the Organization of American States’ election observation mission said Friday that the actions taken by Guatemala’s justice system against the Seed Movement party of President-elect Bernardo Arevalo appear to be aimed at preventing him from taking power.

Eladio Loizaga told a special meeting of the permanent council that the Aug. 20 election was peaceful, transparent and left no doubt as to the will of the people. But in summarizing the various legal actions taken by the Attorney General’s office against the Seed Movement, Loizaga said there appears to be clear political intent.

“Given the documented conditions, it is impossible that the Electoral Observation Mission would arrive at any other conclusion than that in this very specific case the mechanisms and tools of Guatemalan justice are being used politically” against the Seed Movement, he said, adding that the behavior of Guatemalan authorities has been “selective, disproportionate and clearly tailored to the political moment.”

Loizaga said that preventing Arevalo from taking power in January would break the constitutional order and go against the will of the people.

At the request of prosecutors, a judge suspended the Seed Movement’s legal status for alleged wrongdoing in the party’s collection of the signatures needed to register years earlier. This week, Guatemala’s Congress declared the Seed Movement’s seven lawmakers — one of whom is Arevalo — independents, which bars them from holding leadership positions.

Arevalo won the runoff against former first lady Sandra Torres by more than 20 points. She has not conceded and her party has alleged fraud, something Loizaga said was not supported by evidence.

Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro, who was present at the meeting, said “there is no electoral crisis and there is peace.”