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OAS Mission Expresses Deep Concern about Actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office against the Integrity of Electoral Material in Guatemala

  September 12, 2023

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the elections in Guatemala expresses its deep concern about the actions that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has undertaken today, raiding the Center of Operations of the Electoral Process (COPE), where the electoral material is kept.

The OAS Mission takes note that article 243 of the Electoral and Political Parties Law (LEPP), of constitutional rank, establishes that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the Departmental Electoral Boards (JED) are the only bodies competent to verify and qualify electoral documentation. The opening of electoral packages by people and institutions other than those designated by law represents a frontal attack on the integrity of the vote and an affront to the popular will.

These actions constitute further proof that the Public Prosecutor’s Office, far from adjusting its actions to democratic standards, has been intensifying a strategy of questioning the electoral process and intimidating electoral authorities, electoral personnel and the thousands of people who, with great civic commitment, carried out two days of peaceful and transparent voting. The Mission reiterates that the lack of expedience and proportionality of the actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and of the criminal court that once again authorized them, are evidence of a political instrumentalization of the criminal prosecution apparatus. As expressed before the Permanent Council, the OAS Mission considers that these actions may constitute conduct typical of the crimes of prevarication and abuse of authority.

Questioning these elections that have already been held is to question the very will of the people of Guatemala, who on August 20 expressed themselves forcefully at the polls. The President-elect, Bernardo Arévalo, and the Vice President, Karin Herrera, have received their credentials from the TSE. The political transition process is fully underway, with the support and under the auspices of President Alejandro Giammattei and with the accompaniment of the OAS. A democracy is measured both in its capacity to register the preference of the electorate and in its capacity to guarantee the peaceful transmission of command, without threats or acts that undermine the constitutional principle of alternation in power.

The Mission has analyzed the findings on which the complaints raised regarding alleged irregularities in the first and second electoral rounds are based and has verified that they are unfounded. There is no evidence that in the first electoral round, the yellow copies of Document Number 4, which were transmitted from the voting centers and were available for download by political parties and citizens, were altered. Very isolated cases of errors in the minutes in both rounds did not alter the order of preferences, much less did they reach a magnitude that could cast doubt on a difference that, in the second round, was more than 20 percentage points and almost 875,000 votes. Questions regarding the agility with which the Transmission of Preliminary Electoral Results (TREP) system operated on August 20 are based on erroneous calculations about the pace at which the minutes were processed: as the Mission reported, the flow of the minutes was completely in line with the greater simplicity of the presidential election and adjusts to what was observed in the national simulation on August 18, as well as to the direct observation of the Mission on election day.

The Mission will continue to accompany the process and will not cease its efforts to ensure that the popular will expressed at the polls is respected.

Reference: E-054/23