Guatemala’s main party is suspended, throwing the election into turmoil

When asked by reporters about the prosecutor’s move against Arévalo’s party, Irma Elizabeth Palencia, leader of the electoral authority, said: “It’s definitely something that worries us.”

Brian Nichols, the top State Department official for the Western Hemisphere, She said on Twitter that the US government was “deeply concerned” about what it described as “threats to Guatemala’s electoral democracy” by Curruchiche.

“Institutions must respect the will of voters,” Nichols added.

Arévalo’s party, called Semilla, or Seme, filed a motion around midnight in Guatemala’s highest constitutional court, challenging the ruling. On Thursday afternoon, the court accepted the appeal, protecting Semilla’s legal personality and allowing it to go to the August ballot.

Mr Curruchiche, who heads the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity, said the case against Semilla involved claims that she used more than 5,000 fraudulent signatures to qualify as a political party.

After his office looked into the matter, a criminal judge ordered the suspension of the party’s registration, which would have effectively barred it, and Mr. Arévalo, from participating in the ballot.

The fears, however, remain. On Thursday morning, Mr. Curruchiche’s office searched and seized evidence at the Citizens’ Registry, which contained documents filed by Semilla.

Legal experts have contested the move by Curruchiche, an ally of the outgoing president, Alejandro Giammattei. An independent watchdog group, Mirador Electoral, warned in a statement that the suspension was an attempt “to consummate an electoral coup equivalent to a coup”.