The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, on Saturday criticized the “continuous and systematic” efforts to undermine the outcome of the presidential elections in Guatemala, calling for the will of the voters to be respected.

“Once again, I call on the competent authorities, including the current president and the judiciary, to act to defend the rule of law and guarantee respect for the electoral result and thus the will of the Guatemalan people,” said Mr. Turk, according to a press release released by his services in Geneva.

President-elect Bernardo Arevalo, who is expected to take office on January 14, has faced a series of legal challenges since his victory in August’s presidential election: the legal status of his party, Movimiento Semilla (“Seed Movement” ) was revoked, while moves are now underway to prevent him from coming to power.

Mr. Arevalo surprisingly won the presidential election thanks to a program with the fight against corruption as a key component.

The day before Friday, the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office made it clear that it considers the presidential elections won by Mr. Arevalo “null and void”, triggering the angry reaction of the Organization of American States (OAS), which denounced an “attempted coup”.

The Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) for its part called the election result “official” and “unchangeable”.

“The announcements (by prosecutors) on Friday, with the aim of annulling the results of the elections and questioning the Constitution and the existence of the Movimiento Semilla party, are extremely worrying,” Mr. Turk said, according to the press release .

Judicial harassment and attempts to intimidate election officials and elected officials are unacceptable, he added.

“It is encouraging that, despite the long list of political and judicial actions by some authorities, which clearly undermine the integrity of the electoral process and violate the rule of law and democracy, the people are standing up for their rights and resisting what they perceive as the theft of their politics of the will,” added Mr. Turk.

He further called on the Guatemalan authorities to respect and defend all human rights, including those of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.