Legislative Branch Reform: Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace

Agreement on Constitutional Reforms of the Electoral Regime (Stockholm, 7 December 1996)

B. Constitutional reforms included in the Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and on the Role of the Armed Forces in a Democratic Society

Congress of the Republic

11. With regard to the Congress of the Republic, present conditions have prompted various social sectors to raise the issue of the number of deputies, with a view to preventing their numbers from exceeding a predetermined reasonable level while preserving their representativeness as a characteristic expression of democracy. In addition, that representativeness raises the need for an equally reasonable turnover of deputies; accordingly, it is envisaged that deputies will not be able to be re-elected for more than two consecutive terms.

Fixed number of deputies

12. Sponsor in the Congress of the Republic an amendment to article 157 of the Constitution to maintain the number of deputies in the Congress at the current level.

13. An amendment to the same article, stating that deputies cannot be re-elected for more than two consecutive terms, should also be sponsored, so as not to prevent parliamentary careers but at the same time to permit a turnover of political leadership in the Congress.

Agreement on the Implementation, Compliance and Verification Timetable for the Peace Agreements (Guatemala City, 29 December 1996)

II. Timetable for the 90 Days from 15 January 1997

F. Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and on the Role of the Armed Forces in a Democratic Society

Multi-party legislative body

30. Request the Office of the President of the Congress of the Republic to set up a multi-party body to enhance, modernize and strengthen the legislative branch, in accordance with the agenda set out in the Agreement.

Implementation History

1997

Intermediate Implementation

The Agreement on the Implementation, Compliance and Verification Timetable for the Peace Agreements stipulated that the constitutional reforms related to the makeup of the Congress of the Republic should be presented to the Congress of the Republic for ratification, which took place on 15 May 1997. The Guatemalan government presented the draft constitutional amendments to the Congress on 15 May, thus meeting his requirement.1 

MINUGUA established the Program of Institutional Assistance and Legal Reform (PROLEY), which provided direct technical and political support for members of Congress, political parties, the Follow-Up Commission and other bodies.2

  • 1. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/51/936), June 30, 1997.
  • 2. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/59/746), March 18, 2005.
1998

Intermediate Implementation

All 50 constitutional amendments submitted by the Government were approved by the Congress in October 1998. The constitution mandated that they be submitted to the people for a referendum, scheduled for May 1999.3

  • 3. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/526), November 11, 1999.
1999

Intermediate Implementation

The referendum for the full package of constitutional amendments occurred on 16 May 1999. With low turnout, voters denied the proposed amendments related to the legislative branch, along with all other proposed amendments.4 

In the referendum, 392,223 voted against the reforms related to the legislative branch and 284,423 voted in favor of the reform.5

2000

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.