US raises concerns about acts to 'undermine' Guatemala's democracy

Guatemalan President-elect Bernardo Arevalo attends a press conference in Guatemala City

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday congratulated Bernardo Arevalo on his election as the next president of Guatemala, but added the United States remained "concerned with continued actions by those who seek to undermine Guatemala's democracy."

Guatemala's supreme electoral tribunal on Monday ratified the victory of center-left candidate Arevalo in the country's presidential election, although a new bid to suspend the president-elect's party sowed fresh confusion about the fraught process.

"Such anti-democratic behavior, including efforts by the Public Ministry and other actors to suspend the President-elect's political party and intimidate election authorities, undercuts the clear will of the Guatemalan people and is inconsistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter," Blinken said in a statement released by the U.S. State Department on Tuesday.

Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said Tuesday the path was set for an "orderly and transparent transition" of power following the presidential election, despite the new bid to suspend the winning Semilla party sowing fresh doubts.

Giammattei added that he would meet with President-elect Arevalo, who was swept to victory vowing to tackle corruption, on Sept. 4.

Giammattei's statement came after a document from the citizens registry ordering a temporary suspension of Arevalo's Semilla party's legal registration caused new confusion over the election results.

Arevalo, a 64-year-old ex-diplomat and son of a former president, won the Aug. 20 second-round run-off with more than 58% of the vote after prosecutors had earlier threatened to bar Semilla from the election, prompting international outcry.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Chris Reese and Christopher Cushing)