Guatemalans protest against intervention in electoral process

Guatemalans protest against intervention in electoral process

Protesters denounce Attorney General’s Office, courts for targeting one of the leading parties in the presidential race

By Laura Gamba

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Guatemalans took to the streets on Monday in downtown Guatemala City to demand respect for the electoral process ahead of a presidential runoff election on Aug. 20.

Hundreds of demonstrators, including students, protested interference by courts and prosecutors against progressive candidate Bernardo Arevalo’s participation in the upcoming presidential elections. The first round was won by conservative former first lady Sandra Torres and Arevalo.

However, the Attorney General's Office led by Rafael Curruchiche has been trying to disqualify Arevalo's Semilla Movement party over an alleged corruption case that many have called a hoax. Curruchiche has been sanctioned by the US for obstructing investigations in corruption cases. The Attorney General's Office accuses the Semilla Movement party of illicit electoral financing.

Curruchiche’s accusation is one of many controversial moves in an election that critics say is full or irregularities. On July 12, a court ordered the suspension of the Semilla Movement party, which 12% of Guatemalans surprisingly voted for on June 25. On July 21, Guatemalan police raided the party’s offices.

The movement's presidential candidate, Arevalo, 64, has accused the country’s Attorney General’s Office of “political persecution.”

The US has stressed the need to hold free and fair elections in Guatemala next month.

The White House said Guatemalans "deserve the right to vote for their preferred candidate between the certified winners of the first round of elections on June 25th without any interference."

"Threats to arrest election officials or party officials threaten to undermine Guatemala's direct democratic process," spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. "We're closely monitoring the developments with our regional partners and international organizations ahead of the Aug. 20 runoff."

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