Guatemala court suspends opposition party, casting doubt over presidential run-off vote

The Guatemalan Constitutional Court has suspended the activities of the country’s largest opposition party, the National Unity of Hope (UNE), due to suspected irregularities in the way it collected voter signatures for its presidential candidate in the upcoming run-off election. The suspension of UNE throws into doubt the validity of the election, which is scheduled to take place on September 16.

The dispute centers around the allegation that UNE deliberately violated Guatemala’s voter registration rules by using third parties to collect signatures necessary for the presidential candidate to qualify for the race. UNE has denied the charges and says it complied with Guatemala’s election laws. The party has vowed to challenge the court’s decision in international bodies.

The opposition alliance has accused Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and his ruling party of orchestrating the legal action against UNE to prevent its candidate, former first lady Sandra Torres, from competing in the run-off vote. Morales and his party have denied the allegation.

The controversial decision has raised fears that the election may not be free and fair. It has also sparked widespread protests across the country, with thousands of UNE supporters taking to the streets to demand that the court revoke its decision and allow the party to participate in the election.

The Constitutional Court has yet to announce when it will issue its ruling on the case, but if it is not reversed before the election, UNE’s absence from the ballot will likely have a significant impact on the outcome of the vote. It could open the way for Morales to easily win a second term in office.