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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Guatemala Court Suspends Presidential Contender’s Candidacy

A court in Guatemala provisionally suspended on Friday the presidential candidacy of businessman Carlos Pineda, a leading contender for the country’s top job in elections slated for next month.

Three magistrates in an extraordinary session ruled Pineda’s participation was “on hold” after they accepted a challenge presented by leaders of the Cambio party, a political group to which the candidate previously belonged.

According to the complaint, Citizen Prosperity, Pineda’s current party, committed a series of infractions during a candidate proclamation assembly in November 2022.

As a result, “by mandate of the law (the ruling) will cause the nullity of the assembly”, the decision said, meaning other candidacies announced at the event were also suspended.

The participation of the right-wing businessman now rests in the hands of Guatemala’s constitutional court.

“The sixth chamber and its three magistrates granted the provisional recourse… temporarily suspending my participation,” Pineda said in a video posted on Twitter.

He added that he would appeal the ruling to the constitutional court on Saturday, and denounced what he characterized as “fraud” designed to remove him from contention.

According to a poll released at the beginning of May by Prensa Libre, one of the country’s main newspapers, Pineda was in the lead with 23 percent, followed by social democrat and former first lady Sandra Torres with 20 percent.

Guatemala will hold elections on June 25 to pick a successor to right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei, as well as 160 members of Congress, 20 members of the Central American Parliament and 340 mayors for a four-year term.

However, the process has come under fire since a refusal by the electoral court to register indigenous activist Thelma Cabrera and political scion Roberto Arzu — son of the late former president Alvaro Arzu — who were projected to be strong candidates for the presidency.

Last week, the Organization of American States reiterated its concern about the exclusion of candidates in the electoral process.

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