Court leaves second candidate out of Guatemala’s presidential elections

The Guatemalan Constitutional Court has left a second candidate out of the presidential race, at a time when the Central American country is the target of criticism and concerns about what some organizations see as a risk of an inequitable electoral process.

The Court reported Thursday in a statement that it had rejected three appeals filed by presidential candidate Roberto Arzú, whose candidacy had been annulled by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal on the grounds that he carried out an anticipated campaign.

Arzú is the second candidate to be withdrawn from contention heading to the elections of June 25. The first was Thelma Cabrera, who was denied registration by the electoral authorities on the grounds that her fellow candidate and vice-presidential candidate, Jordán Rodas, lacked a document that guaranteed that she had no pending accounts with the State.

The Constitutional Court still has in its hands the decision on the future of two other presidential candidates, the leader Carlos Pineda —whose candidacy was challenged by another political party citing errors in his nomination assembly— and Edmond Mulet, whom the prosecution accuses to campaign early to speak out against the criminalization of journalists.

Thursday’s decision on Arzú’s candidacy is final.

“It is a definitive no, with which we are left out,” David Pineda, who was seeking the vice presidency, along with Arzú, for the right-wing Podemos party, told The Associated Press. Pineda added that they will denounce the situation in international instances.

Arzú is the son of the late former president Álvaro Arzú (1996-2000) and his electoral proposal called for reactivating the death penalty, despite the fact that it is prohibited by the Pact of San José in Costa Rica, to which Guatemala is a signatory.

The Podemos binomial was registered in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which shortly after decided to leave it out of the race after an appeal for annulment filed by the National Convergence Front party, of former President Jimmy Morales (2016-2020), supposedly for early campaign.

Several countries and international organizations have expressed concern about the exclusion of candidates in the race.

The European Union has expressed its concern and has called on the authorities “not to obstruct” candidacies. The OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asked the Guatemalan State to guarantee political rights, pluralism and equal participation in the electoral process.

US officials have spoken in the same vein. Phil Gordon, a US presidential aide and vice-presidential national security adviser, said a few days ago that his country supports “free, fair, inclusive, and peaceful elections in Guatemala.”

If Pineda and Mulet were left out, both in the top positions according to the polls, the beneficiaries would be the pro-government candidate Manuel Conde and the right-wing candidates Zury Ríos —daughter of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt— and former first lady Sandra Torres.

Guatemalans will elect the new president, vice president, as well as deputies to Congress, local mayors and legislators to the Central American Parliament on June 25.

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