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OAS rejects claims of election fraud in Guatemala

GUATEMALA ELECTIONS | 18 de junio de 2019

Guatemala City, Jun 18 (efe-epa).- The head of the electoral mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) for Guatemala rejected Tuesday the accusations of fraud put forward by the small MLP party, which refuses to accept the results of last weekend's general elections.

"In the mission's opinion there was no fraud. There were certainly situations worth being adequately aired and looked into by the relevant agencies, but regarding that issue we believe the results reflect the decision of the people," former Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis told a press conference.

The MLP, whose presidential nominee was the indigenous leader and human rights activist Thelma Cabrera, finished fourth in Sunday's voting.

The party called the electoral process a fraud and announced marches over the coming days to demand its rights.

Despite rejecting claims of electoral tampering, Solis said the OAS observers, who visited 1,132 polling places nationwide on election day, reported cases of the "massive transportation of voters," which led to conflicts at a number of voting stations because some interpreted this as a roundup of people who were convinced to vote in a certain way, while for others it was a legitimate activity of parties transporting their supporters.

The mission, which arrived in Guatemala on June 5, noted that on Sunday there was "a climate of tension" in several municipalities, that turned into "disturbances, demonstrations, the burning of ballots and the blocking of highways."

Notable among those incidents was the canceling of elections in two municipalities: in San Jorge, Zacapa province, because members of the election board resigned due to threats, and in Esquipulas Palo Gordo, San Marcos, for clashes between political parties because of voters being detained.

"The incidents of violence increased after the polls closed, causing the death of one supporter of a political party and injuring nine police officers. Infrastructure in some polling places was damaged," Solis said.

"With a view to the second round, the (OAS) mission trusted in the political leaders' sense of responsibility to resolve the conflicts through dialogue and the mechanisms established by law," he said.

Social democrat Sandra Torres and center-right hopeful Alejandro Giammattei were the top two vote-getters in the presidential contest and will face each other in an Aug. 11 runoff to determine who governs Guatemala for the next five years.

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