Candidate who lost Guatemala's presidential election files complaint alleging voter fraud

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The party of former first lady Sandra Torres, who lost Guatemala’s presidential election this week, filed a complaint Friday alleging fraud in the way the votes were counted.

The complaint is the latest attempt to eradicate competition to Guatemala's political elite in one of the most tumultuous elections in the Central American nation’s recent history.

Torres, a candidate who came to exemplify the political establishment in a country where many people have grown tired of endemic corruption, has remained silent since her loss in Sunday's runoff election and has refused to accept Sunday's results.

While the Supreme Electoral Tribunal recognized progressive Bernardo Arévalo of the Seed Movement party as the virtual winner with a significant lead over Torres, final results have yet to be made official.

Arévalo emerged as the electoral surprise in the first round of the presidential contest, finishing second in a field of 22 and advancing to the Aug. 20 runoff with Torres.

Carlos López, a lawyer for Torres' National Unity of Hope party, filed the complaint on behalf of the party, citing irregularities in the vote counting. The complaint, read by The Associated Press, said they amounted to “electoral fraud that changed the true voting results, violating the popular will expressed by the people through vote."

He presented no initial evidence to journalists to back up his claims.

The complaint also accused electoral authorities of breaching their duties and abuse of authority in the electoral process.

In comments to reporters, López alleged that there had been duplicate vote tallies that called into question the country’s vote-counting system. Though according an official electoral tribunal, in the 164 voting stations called into question, two vote tallies – one for presidential elections and another for municipal – were expected.

Torres' party also claimed that votes were counted too hastily and that the speed in which the race was called was physically impossible, and said party monitors were not given copies of documents tallying the votes. The party demanded that authorities do a forensic analysis of the results of both rounds of the presidential elections.

“The complaint is related to electoral fraud that we consider was committed when processing the data,” López said to journalists.

Arévalo’s victory has left much of the country’s political establishment reeling, and earlier attempts to disqualify his candidacy have raised international alarms over the state of Guatemala’s democracy.

On Friday, hundreds of Guatemalans protested outside the prosecutor's office, demanding that one prosecutor resign following accusations that she was part of an attempt to persecute Arévalo's political party.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed concern about the attempts to undermine the results of Guatemala's presidential election, a U.N. spokeswoman said Friday.

On Thursday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced precautionary measures in favor of Arévalo and his running mate Karin Herrera, considering that their lives and integrity are in danger after they reported two possible assassination attempts against them.