Guatemalans block highways across the country to protest ongoing election turmoil

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Thousands of people blocked highways across Guatemala on Monday in reaction to the attorney general’s office seizing vote tallies from electoral authorities over the weekend as part of ongoing investigations into accusations of voting fraud that observers say are politically motivated.

Indigenous groups and rural farm workers stalled traffic on major transportation arteries as President-elect Bernardo Arévalo met with magistrates of Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal to urge unity against what they see as a violation of voters’ will.

Magistrate Mynor Franco, 70, who wrestled federal agents trying to take boxes of vote tallies on Saturday, said Monday in a news conference that the attorney general’s office actions “were an assault on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.”

“When they come in with covered faces and sunglasses in the morning, you say, ‘are they criminals or authorities?’” Franco said.

Arévalo said Monday he had spoken with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the situation.

Aleisar Arana, an Indigenous leader of the Xinca people, said the protests would continue until Attorney General Consuelo Porras steps down and the Constitutional Court – Guatemala’s highest – intervenes to put an end to Porras’ “abusive actions.”

Arévalo has characterized investigations into his party and electoral authorities as an attempted coup d’etat and the Organization of American States observation mission said prosecutors’ actions appeared to be aimed at keeping Arévalo from taking office.

Arévalo was the surprise electoral victor, building support with an anti-corruption campaign that attracted frustrated voters.

Independent election observers have said that they did not see evidence of fraud that would have affected the results in either round of voting.

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