Bernardo Arevalo
Bernardo Arevalo says he is confident he will take office as Guatemala's president in January 2024. AFP

President Bernardo Arévalo, navigating a complex political landscape marked by a suspended party, limited congressional support, and an ongoing legal challenge, appealed to Guatemalans on Thursday to help him break through the entrenched old guard and bring the change he promised during his election campaign.

"We are clear that in the current context, we depend on society and convincing them that together we begin to row," the president said on Thursday, AP News reported. "We can't depend on a political system where those criminal and patronage networks still lurk."

The president noted that Attorney General Consuelo Porras' office "is where the perverse system remains anchored, and we are looking for the legal means of resolving this," as she refuses to leave the office because her term ends in 2026.

"We're not sure she's going to finish her term because there are actions in Congress and legal actions," he said. "What interests us is that the Attorney General's Office stops acting against the law and the democratic institutionality of the state."

Regarding corruption in the country, Arévalo said that upon assuming office, he witnessed the existing corruption within the administration.

"There are ministries where you just have to open a drawer, and (the corruption) jumps out at your face because the arrogance about the impunity was such that they didn't even try to hide it," he said. "To whom would you take the complaints to an entity in which there's no confidence?"

Movimiento Semilla was suspended by Guatemala's electoral body, Citizen Registry, in November 2023 after the 64-year-old president-elect won the elections by an overwhelming margin on Oct. 31 of the same year.

Guatemalans accused Attorney General Porras of making efforts to disqualify Arévalo's party and stop him from taking over the office. Several Guatemalans even took to the streets to demand the resignation of prosecutors accused of blocking Arévalo.

Porras, on the other hand, has denied the accusations that her office's investigation was politically motivated. However, the Organization of American States has stated otherwise in September.

In the wake of safeguarding democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala, the United States imposed visa restrictions in December on nearly 300 Guatemalan nationals, including 100 political leaders and private sector representatives alongside their families.

However, a spokesman of Porras' office, Juan Luis Pantaleón, said on Thursday that he is unaware of any such comments made by the president, adding that the attorney general's office has always acted within the law.

The spokesperson said he also extended an invitation to the president to attend an inter-institutional meeting next week.

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