The US has issued a warning over possible efforts to interfere with Guatemala’s presidential election result, after the country’s top court ordered ballots from the first-round vote be reviewed, setting up the potential for a recount.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Washington had endorsed findings from observers over the vote’s validity, and said undermining the outcome would be a “grave threat to democracy with far-reaching implications”.
Guatemala’s top court on Saturday ordered ballots from the 25 June election to be reviewed after the frontrunner’s party and allies challenged the results.
Sandra Torres, a former first lady who won the first round, has alleged votes were manipulated. Bernardo Arevalo, who bucked forecasts to become a close runner-up to Torres, described Torres’s vote review request as lacking legal merit and endangering the electoral process.
Guatemala’s supreme electoral tribunal said it would abide by the court decision and instruct its local branches to review the ballots within five days.
The European Union, which monitored the vote and backed the results announced by the electoral tribunal, called on Guatemala’s institutions and political parties to respect the electoral process and what it called the “clearly manifested will of citizens”.
The Organization of American States (OAS) said that its observers had witnessed “a satisfactory election day, in which citizens expressed their will, members of the electoral board facilitated the vote, and political parties inspected the vote at ever stage”.
The OAS echoed calls for the results to be recognized, saying: “Respect for the citizens’ will as expressed at the ballot box is a democratic imperative which must be upheld, honouring the decision already made by the voters.”
In a public statement addressed to the international community, Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry requested respect for its sovereignty and the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs.
It also said the government respected the independence of its electoral authorities and judicial branch.