The fight to certify the results of the first round of Guatemala’s presidential elections suffered what experts called another setback on Saturday after the president of the Supreme Court of Justice issued an order blocking the certification.
The president of the Supreme Court, Silvia Valdés Quezada, issued the unusual order on Friday night. She stipulated that the process could not go ahead until the electoral authorities who conducted a review of the tally sheets of the precincts for the June 25 election informed her of their methods and any inconsistencies found.
Valdés Quezada said they had to do it in 12 hours.
Searches witnessed by the AP that found votes marked or counted incorrectly amounted to less than 1% of the totalhim, which is not enough to change the results.
The electoral observer mission of the Organization of American States said in a statement on Saturday that it was concerned about “the attempt to continue judicializing the electoral process.”
The OAS group said that the review of the minutes “was carried out satisfactorily, complying with the principles of maximum transparency and public access.”
Experts said Valdés Quezada’s order was strange because she was the only judge who signed it. According to normal procedure, it should have been signed by all 13 judges.
“She alone is suspending the electoral process,” said constitutional lawyer Alejandro Balsells.
Ovidio Orellana, former director of the Guatemalan bar association, wrote on his social media accounts that such an order “should be signed by all magistrates.”
If candidates Sandra Torres and upstart Bernardo Arévalo remain the top two vote-getters in the reexamination, it will increase the likelihood that their doubleheader in the first round will hold and the two candidates will head to a runoff. elections on August 20.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal said in a statement Friday that the review “confirms the preliminary results published on June 25,” and urged political parties “to accept with maturity the electoral results, which represent the legitimate will of the people.”
Edie Cux, director of Acción Ciudadana, the local chapter of the non-governmental organization Transparency International, said on Friday that the electoral court must now uphold the conclusions of several days of reviews of the tally sheets compiled by 152 of the more than 122,000 polling stations.
“The result has not changed, the review period has practically closed and as the law establishes, they must now certify the results and assign positions for the second round of elections,” Cux said.
David de León, a spokesman for the electoral tribunal, said the panel hoped to certify the results. next week once the challenged counts are received and any necessary changes are made to the vote totals.
The vote tallies were announced shortly after the June 25 election.but the Constitutional Court, the highest in the country, suspended the certification of the official results of the elections and granted a temporary precautionary measure to 10 parties, one later withdrew, which challenged the results, saying they suspected their votes were stolen .
The matter now falls to the Supreme Court of Justice, which the Constitutional Court appointed to hear the case.
In an extremely crowded field, neither Arévalo nor Torres obtained 50% of the votesso they would be scheduled to meet in the second round on August 20.
Arévalo, 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.
The judicial challenge had aroused fears that political forces they may be seeking to invalidate the June 25 elections.
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.