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Guatemala’s public prosecutor denies election interference amid controversy over suspension of progressive party

Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2023. 8:21 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: The Public Prosecutor’s office of Guatemala continues to face backlash after their controversial decision to suspend the progressive Seed Movement (Movimiento Semilla) party ahead of the presidential run-off election. The Seed Movement’s presidential candidate, Bernardo Arevalo, is set to contest former First Lady Sandra Torres in the run-off on August 20.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office announced that a court had granted their request to suspend the Seed Movement due to an ongoing investigation into alleged fraudulent member registration. The suspension was reversed on Thursday after an appeal to the Constitutional Court by the Seed Movement.

The office denied allegations of interfering with the election, stating that their actions were not intended to disqualify any candidate or disrupt the election timeline. “The actions of the Public Ministry are not intended to interfere with the date of the second round of elections nor to disqualify the participation of any candidate, as has been alleged by some disinformation campaigns,” they said.

Nonetheless, the suspension sparked local and international criticism, with warnings from the United States, the European Union and other countries that such a move would threaten democratic principles. “These actions put at risk the legitimacy of the electoral process at the core of Guatemala’s democracy, which should be advanced and upheld,” said the US Department of State in a statement.

The prosecutor spearheading the Seed Movement investigation, Rafael Curruchiche, has previously been blacklisted by the US for targeting anti-corruption campaigners. Guatemalan Attorney General Maria Consuelo Porras, also facing sanctions from Washington over alleged corruption involvement, has attracted criticism too.

Bernardo Arevalo, however, pledged resilience, promising to fight against the attempted suspension of his party and remain in the electoral race. “We are in the electoral race, we are moving forward and we will not be stopped by this corrupt group,” Arevalo stated.

Guatemalan political analyst Marielos Chang called the suspension of Seed Movement a “direct attack on our political system”, warning that “the public prosecutor’s office will not rest until there is a rupture of our democracy.” The electoral process in Guatemala remains under close international observation.

 

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