OAS: Stop this prosecutor coup attempt in Guatemala

Pres and Pres-elect
President-elect Arévalo (left) and outgoing President Giammattei meet and discuss transition matters with international observers. Guatemalan Presidency photo. 

OAS Electoral Mission in Guatemala rejects new attempt
by public prosecutor’s office to violate popular will

by the Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission

December 8, 2023: The Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Guatemala rejects the new attempt undertaken today by the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP, for its acronym in Spanish) seeking to declare the nullity of the elections, and views with extreme concern these exercises that are a clear alteration of the process and a disregard for the expression deposited in the vote and the popular will.

The Electoral and Political Parties Law (LEPP) of Guatemala in its articles 234 and 235 regulates expressly and exhaustively the causes through which the nullity of an electoral process can be declared, which do not fit with the reasons alleged by the MP. Due to the above, the OAS/EOM considers that the persecution undertaken by the MP to delegitimize the electoral process lacks normative support since the MP does not have the attributions or constitutional powers to carry out these actions, which violate the procedure in accordance with the LEPP.

These actions are added to others undertaken by the MP, such as raids, seizure of tally sheets and electoral material carried out in an opaque manner without the participation of citizens or political parties, without regulatory support and clearly contrary to the democratic principle of maximum transparency that should govern the electoral processes. Fortunately, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) had already fulfilled its function of proclaiming election results, since, according to article 125 (subsection c), the TSE is the only body competent to decide on the validity or nullity of the elections.

Regarding the accusations of alleged adulteration of tally sheet 4, the EOM/OAS states that the minutes used comply with clearly and reliably reflecting the popular will of the general elections, a central objective in any electoral process.

It is important to mention that from a comparison of what was published in Agreement 50-2023, on the model of tally sheets 4 and those used during the electoral process, it is observed that the information fields of both documents are identical, and no information or field was added, nor removed, which allows us to reiterate that the result and validity of the process remain intact. Furthermore, the only distinction observed by the Mission is that the “model of tally sheets 4” had two pages, but for the process it was printed on a single page, which generated advantages of saving on paper, certainty of being a single document more manageable, it made it easy to transmit and allowed all the information to be displayed on a single side.

Once again, the EOM/OAS reiterates that it was present at the vote counting, filling out of tally sheets, transmission, and processing of these, and that the data from the validation instruments of the OAS/EOM are coincident with those announced by the electoral authority, therefore there is no doubt about the results of the elections. Likewise, the EOM recalls that these results already proclaimed, are the means by which the TSE has assigned the elected positions and concluded the electoral process in the country on October 31.

It is important to consider that one of the principles on which democratic exercises are based is the certainty and definitiveness of the stages, that is, exhausting each of the activities and actions that comprise a process in accordance with the law in a timely manner.

Regarding allegations by the MP of preloads in the Preliminary Electoral Results Transmission System (TREP), the Mission had the opportunity to verify on the day of the election day at 17:00 not only the zeroing of the databases and TREP repositories – which the OAS/EOM verified remained at zero – but also observed that at 18:00 the results repository was at zero. As has been pointed out on multiple occasions by the Mission, from that moment on, the EOM/OAS verified, minute by minute, the flow of progress in the processing of results until their conclusion.

Given the situation presented throughout the electoral process, and especially what happened today, the OAS/EOM considers that the Public Prosecutor’s Office and some members of specialized prosecutors’ offices have time and again acted in bad faith, behavior never observed by the OAS and that constitutes a clear interference with the electoral process. The MP fails to fulfill its constitutional function and may have even incurred in electoral crimes and others such as malfeasance and abuse of power, as well as human rights violations.

Finally, regarding the new request to withdraw the immunity of the President-elect, Bernardo Arévalo, and members of the Semilla Movement party, the Mission once again considers that the MP has incurred in persecution and criminalization of a political option, seeking fallacious pretexts to criminally cancel a political movement, and ignoring the people of Guatemala who expressed themselves clearly at the polls. These types of actions are typical of dictatorships and not democracies.

Acts of this nature border on ignorance of the rule of law and attack the republican institutions of the country, within its constitutional framework. Elections in Guatemala cannot be a process of selection by the MP, but rather an expression of the legitimate will of the people.


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