A top Guatemalan party is barred, throwing the presidential election into the unknown

Guatemala’s presidential elections hang in uncertainty due to the barring of a major party allegedly for fraud.

Election confusion: Despite certification of the first-round elections, the political future remains murky after a court accused the Semilla party of fraud and ordered it to be excluded from politics.
* The country’s top electoral body, late Wednesday, confirmed former first lady Sandra Torres and reformist candidate Bernardo Arévalo as the second-round contenders.
* Concurrently, Arévalo’s party, Semilla, was ruled out following allegations of fraud which is seen as politically motivated.

Candidates’ response: Bernardo Arévalo, the second-place candidate, has dismissed the court’s restriction as illicit.
* Arévalo, regarded as a reformist, stated he would not comply with a “spurious and illegal decision” from a politically-driven court.

International sentiment: The U.S. has expressed its concern over threats to Guatemala’s electoral democracy.
* Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, Brian A. Nichols, while welcoming the first round’s vote confirmation, stated via Twitter that he was “deeply concerned by threats to Guatemala’s electoral democracy.”

Implication of the decision: The legality of the decision barring Semilla is uncertain.
* The electoral body admitted it was unsure of the implications of the court’s ruling.
* Independent watchdog, Mirador Electoral, declared the announcement as an “open act of illegality.”

View original article on NPR

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