By Henry MORALES ARANA/Agence France-Presse
Protesters yelled Monday for Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales to give up in a political disaster, after courts blocked his bid to expel a UN official investigating corruption allegations in opposition to him.
Scandal has come to hang-out Morales, a former tv comic, lower than two years after he took workplace on guarantees to stamp out the corruption that toppled his elected predecessor.
Morales sparked worldwide criticism on Sunday when he ordered the expulsion Ivan Velasquez, head of the UN International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
A grouping of 80 Latin American civil society organizations condemned the transfer, in an announcement revealed Monday by the Due Process of Law Foundation.
Morales’s transfer “strongly suggests that he seeks to block the criminal investigation into his alleged activity, in addition to shielding members of illegal security forces and clandestine security structures that are currently under investigation,” they stated.
– President alleges ‘meddling’ –
Morales stated Sunday that he ordered Velasquez, a Colombian national, to be expelled from Guatemala “for the good of the country and not for personal motives.”
“He meddled in domestic affairs that are the sole responsibility of the Guatemalan state” and “tried to pressure lawmakers to pass constitutional reforms,” Morales stated.
The Constitutional Court nevertheless briefly suspended Morales’s order, its chairman Francisco Mata advised reporters.
Health Minister Lucrecia Hernandez and her three deputies resigned in protest over Morales’s transfer.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was “shocked” by Morales’s transfer, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated in an announcement.
The United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland collectively condemned the transfer, in a joint assertion issued by their embassies in Guatemala City.
– Angry protests –
The authorities stated at a cupboard assembly on Monday that Morales retained the help of his remaining ministers.
An military spokesman stated on Sunday that the power remained loyal to Morales.
But there was anger on the streets.
Dozens of demonstrators from indigenous, rural and pupil teams rallied within the historic heart of Guatemala City on Monday calling for him to resign.
“The president wants to guarantee impunity by avoiding criminal prosecution for illicit finance. It is shameful,” stated Andrea Ixchiu, an activist from the indigenous space of Totonicapan.
“All those who have been accused of corruption have joined together to get rid of Ivan Velasquez,” stated Alvaro Montenegro, an activist from the anti-corruption protest motion Justice Now.
Guatemala’s chief human rights lawyer Jordan Rodas advised reporters that Morales’s method risked inflicting “a situation where it is impossible to govern.”
– Party funding allegations –
The protests raised the prospect of a recent wave of unrest just like the one which broke out in opposition to then-president Otto Perez in 2015.
The CICIG helped prosecutors examine the corruption scandal that toppled Perez.
Morales received the following elections and took over as president the next 12 months.
Now investigators say he’s suspected of failing to declare electoral marketing campaign funds. They estimate the worth of the suspect transactions at about $1.zero million.
On Friday, Velasquez and Guatemalan prosecutors had utilized to strip Morales of his immunity so he may be probed over the funds linked to his get together, the National Convergence Front.
– TV persona –
Morales turned well-known for his efficiency as Neto, a naive bumpkin, in his tv present Moralejas.
He produced the present together with his brother Samuel, who has since been caught up in fraud allegations.
The future president insisted throughout campaigning that he was “neither corrupt nor a thief.”