One month after the first round of elections, the judicialization of the results of the electoral process has caused an institutional crisis that threatens the Rule of Law and democracy in Guatemala.
The two presidential candidates who made it to the second round must face each other at the polls on August 20. However, recent measures taken by the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) and certain judges threaten the purity of the electoral process and the constitutional principle of alternation of power.
On July 12, 17 days after the election, the MP initiated a criminal prosecution against one of the political parties that will participate in the second round, arguing that the party had been founded with false signatures.This caused a criminal judge to order the cancellation of the legal personality of the party, an act that he’s not invested to do, and which is prohibited in the Electoral and Political Parties Law (LEPP). That same day, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) was raided by MP prosecutors in search of evidence to support their case.
The illegal actions of the MP and certain judges have triggered a series of repercussions that not only threaten this political party but threaten democracy. This is to the point that the TSE itself had to request an injunction yesterday, July 21, in the early hours of the morning, before the Constitutional Court (CC), in which they request urgent protection against the various entities of the Executive that are trying to prevent the second round of elections and that threaten democracy.
In view of these attacks, different sectors have expressed their concern.
The European Union condemned the "harassment and intimidation" suffered by the TSE and the Movimiento Semilla party. The secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, expressed his concern for the "attempts to disregard the popular will expressed at the polls, the repeated intervention of the MP and the persecution of electoral officials." And the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), expressed its concern for the current situation and urged the State to guarantee the second round of elections and avoid interference of other state powers in the electoral process.
The coordinator of business chambers, CACIF, made a call to respect the Constitution and to carry out the second round of elections with the winning candidates. For its part, the Foro Guatemala, an entity that brings together several civil society organizations, requested the TSE to guarantee that the second round of elections will be held. Many other diplomats, businessmen, lawyers, former judges and magistrates, journalists and members of civil society have called for the protection of institutions and democracy.
Yesterday, after the magistrates of the TSE filed an injunction before the CC in which they requested urgent protection to guarantee the second round of elections, the MP raided the offices of the Movimiento Semilla party.
In response to this, the Electoral Observation Mission in Guatemala (MOE-GT) condemned the "intimidating actions" of the MP and the criminal court against the TSE and described them as a "threat to the independence of the electoral authority".
The Rule of Law is under siege in Guatemala, and in the face of threats, the Code of Professional Ethics compels us lawyers to defend the Rule of Law and to be against any arbitrariness committed or intended to be committed (Article 13).