With tensions mounting around Guatemala’s June 25 presidential election, President Alejandro Giammattei took the unusual step of publishing an open letter Monday saying he has no intention of staying in power beyond his term.
Two weeks have passed since electoral authorities identified two presidential candidates to face each other in the Aug. 20 runoff. But the courts intervened at the request of some political parties and blocked the certification of the results.
The delay fueled rumors that Giammattei, an unpopular leader accused by the US government and others of backsliding on democracy, may be seeking to stay in power because one of the runoff candidates vowed to tackle corruption.
Without giving details, Giammettei denounced a “disinformation campaign and absolutely false and tendentious rumors.” He said that he was telling Guatemalans that he would respect the constitutional end of his term on January 14, 2024.
He said the second round of voting should go ahead as scheduled and that he would work on the transfer of power with whoever is elected.
Last week, by order of the Constitutional Court, the highest in Guatemala, the panels reviewed the vote counts of the precincts that had been questioned by some political parties.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said then that the revision did not change the results of the elections, which showed the conservative Sandra Torres and the progressive Bernardo Arévalo as the two main vote winners among the 22 presidential candidates.
But on Friday night, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, the court designated to handle electoral challenges, issued an order that the process to certify the results could not move forward until the electoral authorities informed her of their methods and the inconsistencies found. .
On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld last week’s review of the contested precincts’ vote counts and rejected further attempts by some political parties to further delay certification of the results.
What the court did not say was whether its decision opens the way for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to certify the results.
The spokesman for the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, David de León, said that the country’s electoral authority will continue with the process to certify the results and proceed with the second round on August 20.
“Despite the emphatic language that he will leave office and the call to respect the date of the second round, the statement (of Giammattei) does not clarify what the president would do if the Supreme Court … decided to change for whatever reason.” the results, said Tiziano Breda, an expert on Latin America and a researcher at Italy’s Institute of International Affairs.
Giammattei tries to present himself as the guarantor of the separation of powers, but he and his party are the “artists” of the judicial intervention that is delaying the certification of the results, Breda said.
Later on Monday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal urged calm. In a broadcast press conference, the president of the court, Irma Palencia, said: “We are doing our best to continue guaranteeing the protection of the vote, because this election is won or lost at the polls and that is where you are invited to participate. again.