Some Guatemalan political parties and other actors unnecessarily dragged the country’s June 25 elections into the courts in an attempt to ignore the will of the people, the Organization of American States observation mission has concluded.
"The mission considers that the abuse of legal instruments by actors unsatisfied with the results introduced a high degree of uncertainty in the electoral process and put at risk the country’s democratic stability," the election observers wrote in a report released Wednesday.
For more than two weeks, the election results that put conservative former first lady Sandra Torres and progressive former diplomat Bernardo Arévalo in a runoff together went uncertified. Several losing parties requested injunctions and the Constitutional Court ordered a review of challenged precinct vote tallies.
The observers said some political parties tried to use very isolated errors to sow doubt about the trustworthiness of the election and suggest there were systematic problems. After the review, for which the observers were also present, the results were "almost identical to the preliminary results," the mission wrote.
The observers declared the election "successful," saying it was peaceful and that the transmission of results was satisfactory.
Once the vote tally review was completed with the results essentially unchanged, the Attorney General’s Office stepped in to allege that Arévalo’s Seed Movement had committed crimes in its collection of signatures to form as a party years earlier. A judge suspended the party’s legal status, but the Constitutional Court granted a preliminary injunction blocking that suspension.
Now the two candidates are only a month away from an Aug. 20 runoff, but legal obstacles continue to swirl. The special prosecutor for corruption who sought the suspension of the Seed Movement party’s legal status has said the investigation remains open.
Some 90 observers from 20 countries made up the Organization of American States’ election mission in Guatemala.