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Bernardo Arevalo: Guatemala electoral body upholds victory

August 29, 2023

The center-left candidate's party had reportedly been disqualified in the presidential election, but the electoral tribunal has reaffirmed his runoff victory.

Bernardo Arevalo during an interview from his home in Guatemala city.
Arevalo is the son of a former president Juan Jose Arevalo and has campaigned on an anti-corruption platformImage: Pilar Olivares/REUTERS

Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Tribunal on Monday reaffirmed center-left candidate Bernardo Arevalo's victory in the presidential election.

However, another government body suspended all activities of his Movimiento Semilla, or Seed Movement party which led to confusion as to whether he would eventually be able to take office.

Arevalo said the suspension was illegal and the party would present an appeal the following day.

"The Semilla Movement will not give up," Arevalo said, slamming what he called political persecution against his party and his candidacy.

Doubts raised about Arevalo's victory

Officials from the electoral tribunal officially declared Bernardo Arevalo as the victor during a press conference.

However, a document from the citizens registry surfaced in local media reports, which ordered a temporary suspension of Semilla's legal registration.

Irma Palencia, the head of the electoral tribunal, clarified that the cited document originated from a lower authority. 

"These are the official results, and that's what counts in Guatemala," tribunal magistrate Gabriel Aguilera said.

Who is Bernardo Arevalo?

Arevalo is the son of a former president Juan Jose Arevalo and emerged as a surprise frontrunner. He campaigned for social development and vowed to fight corruption. 

Arevalo did not secure enough votes for a decisive win in the first vote and headed towards a second round of voting. He managed secure 60.9% of valid votes cast.to the 37.2% received by former first lady Sandra Torres,

Arevalo and other political opponents have faced legal challenges in recent days. The Organization of American States' human rights commission had asked Guatemala to provide protection for Aravelo earlier this week, after reports emerged of an attempt to kill him.

tg/kb (AP, Reuters)