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Bernardo Arévalo’s Semilla party suspended by Guatemala court for alleged corruption



A Guatemalan court has disqualified the party of an anti-corruption presidential candidate just weeks before the election, throwing the race into turmoil and prompting U.S. warnings that the Central American country’s democracy is in peril.

The court issued the ruling Wednesday afternoon at the request of a prosecutor who has been sanctioned by the U.S. government for disrupting high-profile corruption investigations. The prosecutor, Rafael Curruchiche, alleged irregularities in the registration of members of the Semilla party.

Semilla’s candidate, Bernardo Arévalo, said the court order violated election law. “There is no way we are going to obey a spurious and illegal decision,” he told CNN en Español. His party appealed to the country’s Constitutional Court on Thursday to block the federal electoral tribunal from carrying out the order.

Arévalo, a center-left candidate who has vowed to challenge Guatemala’s deeply corrupt political establishment, was the surprise second-place finisher in the first round of voting last month. That set him up for a runoff against former first lady Sandra Torres on Aug. 20.

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The electoral process has been widely criticized, with authorities disqualifying several leading anti-establishment candidates. A quarter of voters cast blank or null ballots in protest during the first-round vote.

Brian Nichols, the State Department’s top official for Latin America, said in a tweet late Wednesday that the U.S. government was “deeply concerned” by the prosecution’s “threats to Guatemala’s electoral democracy. Institutions must respect the will of voters.”

Anti-corruption judge flees Guatemala despite U.S. efforts to protect her

Protesters filled the streets outside the Supreme Electoral Tribunal on Wednesday night, shouting: “Send Curruchiche to jail!”

Guatemala became internationally known for a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that culminated in the resignation in 2015 of a president, Otto Perez Molina, who was subsequently jailed. But in recent years, authorities have dismantled the U.N.-backed anti-corruption commission[ad_2]

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