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International News: Organization of American States (OAS) backs President-elect Arévalo amidst inauguration delays and rising tensions in Guatemala City

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2024. 6:59 pm CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: As Guatemala is on the edge of a political crisis, Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), has declared support for President-elect Bernardo Arévalo, calling for a peaceful transfer of power. This announcement comes amidst rising tensions in Guatemala City, where the inauguration of Arévalo has been delayed without any reasonable explanation, leading to civil unrest and prompting concerns from international delegates attending the inauguration.

On Sunday, supporters of Arévalo breached barricades, threatening to invade the Congress building following the postponement of the ceremony meant to swear in new Congressional lawmakers. The event was scheduled for 3 p.m. local time but up to late evening, the event was yet to start. Meanwhile police in riot gear has appeared in increasing numbers on the streets.

Adding to the confusion, Arévalo’s Semilla party proclaimed him officially the president of Guatemala via a social media post on platform X at 4 p.m., only to delete the post shortly after. Reuters was informed by a Semilla spokesperson that Arévalo was waiting at a hotel in the capital.

USAID chief Samantha Power affirmed that there was “no question” of Arévalo’s presidency, urging all parties to maintain peace. Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina, representing the delegations present, including the OAS and the European Union, demanded respect for Arévalo’s inauguration.

Guatemala’s top court, however, ruled that Semilla party lawmakers would assume office as independents, a move that could significantly weaken Arévalo’s presidential influence.

The controversy casts a shadow over the democratic process in Guatemala, where Arévalo, 65, secured the presidency in an August run-off, promising to eliminate entrenched corruption in the country. The legal maneuvers by Guatemala’s attorney general, an ally of outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei, have been interpreted by Arévalo as attempts to undermine his victory.

These recent legal and political skirmishes showcases the delicate state of democracy in Guatemala. As the country braces for what could be a diminished ability for Arévalo to fulfill his campaign promises, the international community is paying attention, hoping the will of the Guatemalan people will prevail.

Despite the overwhelming support Arévalo received during the elections, his party, Semilla, has secured only a fraction of the seats in Congress, leaving Arevalo’s administration susceptible to political tensions.

Belize’s Prime Minister John Briceño is in Guatemala City and is scheduled to attend Arevalo’s inauguration.


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