- August 29, 2017
- Posted by: admin
- Category: World News
Guatemala has fallen into deep political crisis after the president declared the United Nations-backed anti-corruption chief investigating him and his party persona non grata, only to have the expulsion order blocked hours later by the country’s constitutional court.
Morales announced the expulsion of the respected Colombian prosecutor via a video posted on his Twitter account in the early hours of Sunday morning. He also announced that he was firing the foreign minister for failing to carry out the expulsion, replacing him with an ally who is under investigation for illegal adoptions.
The announcements were made less than 48 hours after Velásquez and Thelma Aldana, the attorney general, asked the court to strip Morales of his political immunity in order to proceed with charges linked to illegal campaign funds allegedly received by his political party the National Convergence Front (FCN) during the 2015 election. Prosecutors allege that Morales has refused to account for more than $800,000 (£620,000) in campaign financing and had hidden his own party’s accounts. Morales, who ran for president under the slogan “neither corrupt nor a crook”, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors moved against Morales while he was in New York trying – but failing – to persuade the UN secretary general to fire Velásquez. Judges will rule on the immunity request on Monday. If it is lifted and congress votes in favour of impeachment, Morales could be arrested within days.
The FCN was formed by a group of hardline military officials suspected of grave human rights violations during the Central American’s country’s 36-year civil war in which 200,000 people, mainly indigenous civilians, were killed.
“This is a dark day for justice in Guatemala, a constitutional crisis triggered by the president, his military allies and organised associates who are already facing trial or fearful that they could be next,” said Jo-Marie Burt, a Guatemalan justice expert and senior fellow at the Washington Office at Latin America (WOLA).
“But even if important figureheads are forced out, while this would be a serious blow it would not the end of the world. The anti-corruption investigations would continue.”
29 August 2017
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