Supporters of Guatemala's president-elect block highways and roads to protest prosecution

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Thousands of farmers and Indigenous supporters on Tuesday blocked roads and streets in Guatemala to defend the president-elect as government prosecutors seek to ban his political party.

Protests organized by the Farmworkers' Development Council set up about 14 blockades on Guatemala's seven main highways and blocked several streets in Guatemala City.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of prosecutors who have sought to ban the Seed Movement party of president-elect Bernardo Arévalo.

Arévalo won the Aug. 20 presidential runoff in a landslide, but prosecutors have continued pursuing multiple investigations related to the registration of Seed Movement, and alleged fraud in the election. International observers have said that is not supported by evidence.

Earlier this week Aleisar Arana, a leader of the Xinca ethnic group, called the prosecutions an attempt at a “coup.”

“The coup that the prosecution is leading must be stopped,” Arana said. Protesters threatened to keep demonstrating until the efforts against Arévalo are stopped.

Arévalo announced plans last week to call Guatemalans into the streets to protest efforts to derail his presidency before he can take office, he said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

A coalition of academic and rights groups issued a statement Monday saying that international pressure should be stepped up to ensure Guatemala respects the results of the elections.

Arévalo, a progressive lawmaker and academic, shocked Guatemala by making it into the runoff in which he beat former first lady Sandra Torres by more than 20 points.

The attorney general’s office has said it is only following the law, but has come under intense criticism within Guatemala and abroad for what appears to be a brazen attempt to keep Arévalo from coming to power, or to weaken him.

This week, agents from the attorney general’s office opened boxes of votes and photographed their contents in an unprecedented violation of Guatemala’s electoral law.

Arévalo has called for Attorney General Consuelo Porras’ resignation and said he would temporarily suspend the process of transition from outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei.