Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) called for general elections for June 16, 2019, as the country is going through a political crisis fostered by President Jimmy Morales’s conflict with the U.N. Anti-Graft body.
“The Supreme Electoral Court calls to participation with a civi spirit, in harmony and without confrontations,” said Mario Aguilar, president of the TSE.
More than seven million Guatemalans will elect about 4,000 public servants, including president, vice president, municipal authorities and representatives for local, national and Central American houses.
Neither president Morales nor the presidents of the other government branches were present at the TSE ceremony announcing the elections date.
Morales was elected with a promise for change in 2015 after ex-President Otto Perez Molina resigned accused of corruption. The U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG ), which Morales is now trying to expel from the country as soon as possible, played a key role in the investigations.
While Perez Molina’s trial goes on, his vice president Roxana Baldetti was already sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.
His current dispute with the CICIG proved to have a strong political cost, with massive protests in favor of the international institution.
Thelma Aldana, who served as the Attorney General (2014-2018) and worked along the CICIG in several high profile corruption cases, has said in the past she would like to participate in the presidential elections. Although she hasn’t formalized her candidacy yet, her team has been discussing the possibility to make her the candidate of a new, progressive political party known as “Movimiento Semilla” (Seed Movement).
As soon as she left her position in 2018, several cases were filed against her by the political establishment, accusing her of embezzlement, abuse of authority and other cases.
Other visible names that will probably participate in the elections are Sandra Torres, who in 2011 divorced then president Alvaro Colom to be able to run in the elections and made it to the second round against Morales in 2015; Alejandro Giammattei, who has been a candidate three times already; and Zury Rios, daughter of the late dictator Efrian Rios Montt, who founded a political party to participate.
The electoral authorities informed that there will be 27 out of 28 parties participating in the process so far, as one is suspended, receiving up to US$3.7 million for campaign expenses.
Parties will not be forced to include women or indigenous people in their candidacies because an electoral reform didn’t pass in 2016.