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HomeCentral AmericaGuatemalaArévalo: Guatemalan Officials Orchestrating 'Coup' After Election Archive Raid

Arévalo: Guatemalan Officials Orchestrating ‘Coup’ After Election Archive Raid

The president-elect of Guatemala, social democrat Bernardo Arévalo, demanded on Tuesday the resignation of the Attorney General Consuelo Porras, prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, and judge Fredy Orellana for allegedly orchestrating a coup d’état.

“Guatemalans, the coup plotters must resign. Attorney General Consuelo Porras, prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche, and judge Fredy Orellana, in a wicked association, have escalated the ongoing coup,” he said in a press conference.

Arévalo also announced he was suspending the transition process leading up to his inauguration in January 2024 when he is supposed to succeed the outgoing right-wing president, Alejandro Giammattei.

His demand came after prosecutors raided the facilities housing the ballots from the June elections on Tuesday and violated the custody chain of the votes by opening files held by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

“Porras, Orellana, and Curruchiche are responsible for violating the electoral process and democratic order… They have diverted their constitutional duty to investigate into a clear ongoing coup,” insisted the former congressman, who won in the second round of voting on August 20.

“As the president-elect, I call on these officials to resign immediately, to stop this assault on the Constitution, and to cease this persecution orchestrated by mafia groups and elites,” he added. For Arévalo, only the resignation of these three justice officials “will ensure the country’s constitutional order.”

He also announced he would request the removal of immunity from the Attorney General and the judge and file a criminal complaint against Curruchiche and assistant prosecutor Cinthia Monterroso, both from the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI).

Transition Suspended

Arévalo stated the current instability led him to temporarily withdraw from the administrative transition process. The decision will stand until the “necessary institutional political conditions are restored.”

Giammattei’s government regretted Arévalo’s decision in a statement and reiterated its willingness to “immediately resume the process whenever elected authorities request it.”

“This is a decision we respect but do not share, as it resulted from actions unrelated to the Executive Branch, which haven’t interfered with the process undertaken to date,” it added.

Arévalo and Giammattei met for transition talks on the last two Mondays, joined by the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OEA), Luis Almagro.

Earlier, prosecutor Curruchiche justified the raid on the electoral archive based on “a citizen’s complaint” about alleged irregularities in one of the ballot boxes from the June 25 elections.

Curruchiche has taken multiple actions against Arévalo’s Semilla party and faced heavy criticism domestically and internationally. He noted Tuesday’s raid wasn’t related to an ongoing investigation against Semilla.

After the June 25 election, several losing parties alleged fraud and demanded a vote recount, which later confirmed the initial results. 64-year-old Arévalo surprisingly won against former first lady Sandra Torres in a runoff after initially not being a favorite among about twenty candidates.

Raid Criticized

The raid prompted a wave of criticism and rejection from international figures.Brian Nichols, the U.S. diplomat for Latin America, deemed it an “unprecedented action” that “weakens the democratic transition and the will of the Guatemalan people,” as written on X, previously Twitter.

“The Public Prosecutor’s Office, instead of aligning its actions with democratic standards, is intensifying a strategy of questioning the electoral process and intimidating electoral authorities,” the OEA stated.

The European Union urged “all government institutions and powers to fully respect the election results” and “refrain from actions undermining these results.”

The confiscated boxes contained the cast votes, null votes, blank votes, unused ballots, and other tools used by each polling station.

TSE president, Irma Palencia, labeled the opening of the boxes as “unprecedented and concerning.” Despite the provoked uncertainty, she clarified that the election results had been officially confirmed, “and that cannot be changed.”

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