Skepticism and uncertainty erupted again in Guatemala after the country’s Constitutional Court suspended the official release of June 25 election results, where left-leaning government critic Bernardo Arévalo surprisingly snuck into a presidential runoff.
The decision came in response to a request issued by nine different political parties who demanded a nationwide vote recount following several but as-of-yet unproven fraud allegations. Starting this Monday, electoral boards will have five days to review the count, the country’s electoral tribunal stated.
Comunicado | El Tribunal Supremo Electoral a la ciudadanía informa.
— TSE Guatemala (@TSEGuatemala) July 2, 2023
Among the parties demanding a recount was the powerful National Unity of Hope (UNE), whose presidential candidate Sandra Torres made it to the second round as the most voted ticket, albeit with only 15 percent of total ballots. That tally means that UNE would lose strength in Congress if results are confirmed, moving from first to second biggest force after losing 23 legislative seats.
UNE has been an ally of outgoing right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei throughout his term in office, voting for crucial bills in parliament. Mr. Giammattei, meanwhile, has been criticized for his authoritarian rule, forcing judges into exile and overseeing the ban of four rival candidates from running in the latest election.
But requests for a recount are not unprecedented, with a similar process taking place in the last presidential vote in 2019.
According to Mr. Arévalo, the recount order is tantamount to judicial encroachment on the election process and puts “democracy at risk.” His left-wing Movimiento Semilla (Seed Movement) party is looking to overturn the recount order.
Spokesmen for the U.S., the European Union, and the Organization of American States said they were “deeply concerned” about the situation.
Despite the deadlock, courts in Guatemala insist that the runoff will proceed as scheduled, on August 20, with a view to completing the passing of the presidential baton in January 2024.
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