Guatemala’s top court blocks leading presidential candidate ahead of vote

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Guatemala’s Constitutional Court has disqualified Carlos Pineda, the top candidate in the presidential race, one month before the elections. The court rejected Pineda’s appeal against the electoral authorities’ decision to remove him from the ballot, citing violations of the electoral law. Pineda, a conservative businessman with a large social media following, denounced the ruling as a result of corruption and fraud.

Pineda is the third presidential hopeful to be barred from running in the elections, which are scheduled for June 25. He follows Roberto Arzú, another conservative candidate, and Thelma Cabrera, a left-leaning Indigenous candidate, who were both disqualified on different grounds earlier this year. The disqualifications have raised concerns among human rights groups and observers, who have accused the electoral authorities of using the judiciary to restrict candidates who are not acceptable to the government establishment.

The elections will choose the successor of outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei, who is not eligible for re-election. Giammattei has faced criticism for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, corruption allegations and repression of dissent. Twenty-two candidates are still in the race, including former first lady Sandra Torres, ex-UN diplomat Edmond Mulet and Zury Rios, the daughter of a former dictator. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the first round, a runoff will be held on August 20.

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