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Crisis Intensifies in Guatemala with New Raids and Suspended Government Transition

Political Crisis in Guatemala Deepens as President-elect Suspends Transition Process

The political crisis in Guatemala has escalated further after President-elect Bernardo Arevalo announced the suspension of his participation in the . This decision comes in response to raids on electoral tribunal facilities carried out by government agents.

Arevalo called for the resignation of Guatemala’s attorney general, Consuelo Porras, and other officials following the raids. He accused them of deviating from their constitutional role and engaging in a coup d’etat against his Movimiento Semilla party. Arevalo stated that he would only resume the transition process when the necessary conditions were met.

The raids on the facilities of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal involved the opening and photographing of ballot boxes, which experts have deemed as an unprecedented violation of the law. Prior to Arevalo’s win in the second round of elections in August, the prosecutor’s office had sought to suspend his political party, sparking international concerns about interference.

Luis Gerardo Ramirez, a spokesman for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, stated that the tribunal had not authorized the opening of the ballot boxes and described the actions as “unprecedented.” He emphasized that only personnel from the tribunal and the vote-counting are allowed to handle the secret ballots according to Guatemalan law.

Arevalo condemned the investigation into his electoral victory, labeling as a coup attempt. He characterized the raids as “flagrant crimes of abuse of authority for electoral purposes” and violation of Guatemala’s . The president-elect stated that he would resume his participation in the government transition once the necessary institutional and political conditions were restored.

The decision made by Arevalo has raised concerns about the constitutionally-mandated transfer of on January 14. It remains uncertain how this move will affect the process.

The Organization of American States (OAS) electoral observation mission to Guatemala expressed “deep concern” over the raids. The mission stated that the opening of electoral packages by unauthorized individuals and institutions is a direct on the integrity of the vote and the will of the people. They also accused the prosecutor’s office of intensifying their strategy to question the electoral process and intimidate electoral authorities and personnel.

Brian Nichols, the assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs at the State Department, condemned the raids, stating that they undermine the democratic transition and the will of the Guatemalan people. Ovidio Orellana, former president of Guatemala’s bar association, also criticized the raids, highlighting that there is no legal basis for judges or prosecutors to interfere with the electoral boxes or votes.

The current political crisis in Guatemala has raised concerns about the stability of the country and the future of democratic governance. The actions of government agents and the response from President-elect Arevalo have further deepened the divisions within the political landscape. International observers and officials have called for a resolution to the crisis to ensure the integrity of the democratic process and for the will of the people.

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