Voting began in Guatemala on Sunday morning in the country’s presidential run-off election seen as a test for democracy.
The progressive candidate from Movimiento Semilla (Seed Movement), Bernardo Arevalo, is running on an anti-corruption platform and recent polls have him as the frontrunner.
Arevalo is up against former first lady Sandra Torres who became an ally of outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei in his third attempt at the presidency.
“Now we must vote. We all have the right and the privilege to express our opinion to shape the future of the country,” Arevalo said after voting in the capital of Guatemala City, according to a Guatemalan newspaper Free Press.
Torres wrote on platform X, formerly Twitter, that he is “absolutely committed to the transformation of our country.”
Potholed road to runoff
Last month in the build-up to the polls, police raided Arevalo’s party headquarters in a move he denounced as “political persecution.” The Attorney General’s Office said it implemented a court order from July 12 that suspended the legal status of Arevalo’s center-left party, due to allegations of falsifying signatures when establishing itself to compete. .
Just a few days before the presidential runoff, the Supreme Court of Justice granted a permanent injunction to Arevalo’s party, blocking the previous suspension order of the lower court.
The attorney general who ordered Semilla’s suspension was previously added by the US State Department to Engel’s list of “corrupt and undemocratic actors.”
View the results
Meanwhile, the regional oversight forum, the Organization of American States (OAS) said that a team of 86 election observers is in the country to monitor the proceedings.
“It is important that citizens are able to express themselves freely with full guarantees and that their expressions are respected,” said Eladio Loizaga, head of the OAS mission in Guatemala on Saturday.
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, and as the region’s largest economy, it has struggled with widespread poverty and violence that has forced hundreds of thousands to migrate in the past few years.
Polls close at 1800 local time (0000 UTC).
kb/jcg (Reuters, AP, AFP)