GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s supreme court has suspended the publication of official election results and granted a temporary injunction to 10 parties that challenged the results of the June 25 vote.
The Constitutional Court convened a new hearing on Saturday night to review the contested counts in no more than five days.
Sandra Torres and Bernardo Arévalo had emerged from a field of nearly two dozen presidential hopefuls in the first round of voting. Since neither approached the 50% threshold, they were expected to compete in a runoff on August 20 to determine Guatemala’s next president.
Arévalo, in particular, of the progressive Movimiento Semilla party came as a surprise, since he had not been in the polls among the main candidates. Torres, the candidate of the conservative UNE party, is making her third run for the presidency.
Essentially, the court wants to compare the counts that were entered into the electoral system with those of the polling places themselves to make sure they match. If necessary, the court said it would order a new count of contested ballots.
Constitutional lawyer Alejandro Balsells said a recount should be avoided for the sake of the process. The temporarily formed panels that count the votes at each polling station on Election Day are the ones that should count.
Practically speaking, it means that a week after the election, the results are still unofficial for president, vice president, every congressional seat, and hundreds of local elected officials across the country.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the US government supports the conclusions of numerous national and international election observation groups, “which found that the results published in the most watched elections in Guatemala matched their observations across the country. ”
“The United States supports the constitutional right of the Guatemalan people to choose their leaders through free and fair elections and is deeply concerned about efforts that interfere with the outcome of the June 25 election,” the statement said. “Undermining the June 25 elections would be a serious threat to democracy with far-reaching implications.”
Among the parties questioning the results are those of three candidates who were in the polls among the leaders before Election Day, but ended up getting less than 8% of the vote each. However, Torres’s party also called for a review of the voting records.
Dozens of people protested in front of the court on Saturday night, demanding that their votes be respected and not determined by the courts.
Arévalo was among them and said, “together with the people we are not going to allow him to defraud the will of the Guatemalan people.”