The social democrat Bernard Arevalo, elected in August on the promise of fighting corruption, was inaugurated on the night of Sunday January 14 to Monday January 15 as new president of Guatemala, after months of uncertainty and tensions until the last minute.

The ceremony was held more than nine hours late due to long debates in Parliament before the inauguration, which was attended by Latin American leaders, representatives of the European Union and the United States. Left hand on the Constitution and right arm raised, Mr. Arevalo, 65, swore to serve Guatemala to the cheers of the audience, at the national theater in Guatemala.

Bernardo Arevalo, vowed on Monday to preserve his country’s institutions from “corruption” and “impunity”, in his first speech, after being sworn in for a four-year term. “We will not allow our institutions to bow to corruption and impunity again,” he declared after his inauguration.

MPs allied with outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei first secured the 23 MPs from Mr Arevalo’s Semilla party to be registered as independents, after the prosecution temporarily suspended Semilla for alleged fraud during its creation in 2017. “They are trying to violate democracy with trifles and abuse of power,” Mr. Arevalo denounced on X, fearing that his inauguration would be postponed. “MPs have a responsibility to respect the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box. The Guatemalan people and the international community are watching us,” he added.

Outside Parliament, hundreds of supporters of Mr. Arevalo forced roadblocks to approach the building, but without clashes with the police, noted Agence France-Presse. A joint statement from the delegations of the countries present at the inauguration even called on “Parliament to comply with its constitutional mandate to hand over power as required by the Constitution”.

The “democratic will” of the people “must be respected”

“The Guatemalan people expressed their democratic will in fair, free and transparent elections, approved by the international community through its electoral observation missions. This will must be respected,” we read in the text signed by the European Union (EU), the Organization of American States (OAS) and several Latin American governments.

In the game of alliances, the new Assembly elected a member from Semilla, Samuel Pérez, 31, new president of the unicameral Parliament. A resounding victory for the Arevalo camp.

Since his surprise victory, the 65-year-old former diplomat and sociologist has faced numerous obstacles in this country which ranks 150th out of 180 in the ranking of the anti-corruption association Transparency International. The prosecution has increased legal appeals (cancellation of elections, suspension of his political party, lifting of his elected immunity), roundly denounced by the United States, the EU, the UN and/or the OAS.

Bernardo Arevalo has continued to denounce a “slow coup d’état” to thwart the results of the polls.