Bernardo Arevalo
President-elect Bernardo Arevalo AFP

Guatemala's top court on Thursday ordered Congress to "guarantee" the swearing-in of president-elect Bernardo Arevalo, after accepting an appeal against efforts by the prosecutor's office aimed at preventing him from assuming power on Jan. 14.

The Constitutional Court said in a statement it had issued an order to "command Congress ... to guarantee the effective inauguration of all elected officials in the 2023 electoral process, in accordance with official rights and validation of results."

The decision came after the court accepted an appeal presented in October by a group of lawyers and citizens to clear Arevalo's rise to power.

The court order appeared to hearten Arevalo, a political outsider who pledges to combat corruption once he is sworn in.

"We have won the elections and we will take office on January 14. Guatemala, the future is already ours," Arevalo wrote in a brief message on X, formerly Twitter.

The resolution also protects the inauguration of vice president-elect Karin Herrera and of the 160 deputies, 340 mayors and 20 representatives to the Central American parliament who were elected in this year's vote.

The court, citing its duty "to safeguard the constitutional order and the constitutional rule of law in Guatemala, decided to grant definitive protection," the statement said.

Arevalo has faced an onslaught of legal challenges since his surprise second-round election victory in August, including attempts to suspend his political party and stop him from taking power.

The 65-year-old's triumph and his pledge to fight graft are widely seen in Guatemala as alarming to the establishment political elite.

Last Friday, prosecutor Leonor Morales said investigations had concluded that the election of Arevalo, his vice president and parliamentarians was "null and void" due to counting "anomalies" in the first round in June.

But the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) responded by saying "the results are validated, formalized and unchangeable."

In Washington, the Organization of American States secretariat said it "condemns the attempted coup d'etat by the Public Prosecutor's Office of Guatemala."