Guatemalan presidential transition raises questions as ruling party suspends opposition's status
The concerns arose on Wednesday, after the Guatemala’s Congress, currently dominated by the ruling Vamos party, refused to recognize seven lawmakers elected from the Seed Movement party, known formally as Semilla
September 5, 2023 8:48am
Updated: September 5, 2023 8:48am
Critics are expressing concerns about Guatemala’s upcoming presidential transition in the wake of a victory from Seed Movement party of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo, after the suspension of his party earlier this week.
The concerns arose on Wednesday, after the Guatemala’s Congress, currently dominated by the ruling Vamos party, refused to recognize seven lawmakers elected from the Seed Movement party, known formally as Semilla.
“Lawmakers declared their Seed Movement colleagues independents in the latest move against the party since Arévalo’s landslide win Aug. 20.
"Prosecutors have accused the Seed Movement of wrongdoing in gathering signatures for the party’s registration years earlier. The case was announced in July after Arévalo won a surprise place in the presidential runoff against former first lady Sandra Torres,” according to a recent report published by the Associated Press.
Rafael Curruchiche, an anti-corruption prosecutor, noticed the Congress of the Seed Party’s suspension, ignoring ongoing court appeals on the issue, a move that promped the U.S. to sanction him for purportedly obstructing corruption investigations.
The Guatemalan Congress recently returned for its first session after a two-month recess. While Arévalo is now considered one of the seven lawmakers whose party is suspended, he attended the Wednesday session as an independent.
The Seed Movement told a cache of journalists at a press conference it was the target of a conspiracy orchestrated by the ruling party, and that it was seeking injunctive relief by blocking the legislature’s move.
It also said it would also file a complaint with Congressional leaders.
“In recent days we have witnessed the systematic articulation of actions aimed at the disappearance of the Seed Movement, at the same time cancelling the support of the Guatemalan people at the ballot box who expressed an emphatic ‘no’ to corruption,” said Samuel Pérez, one party lawmaker.
Román Castellanos, a Seed Movement legislator said the suspension now means that lawmakers cannot hold leadership positions in the Congress under their banner, forcing them to attend as independents—a move that will compel them to temporarily forfeit the presidency of the sole congressional committee they held, he said.
Congress acted differently when, several months earlier, the National Change Union’s party status was cancelled by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
Lawmakers from Vamos, the current ruling party of President Alejandro Giammattei was not declared independent or removed from committee leadership positions.