Protesters in Guatemala have demanded the ouster of President Jimmy Morales over his attempt to expel a UN official probing corruption charges against him.
Hundreds of demonstrators from indigenous, rural and student groups staged protest rallies in the historic center of the nation’s capital of Guatemala City on Monday demanding the resignation of Morales.
He is a former television comedian who rose to power less than two years ago on a presidential campaign pledge to root out the corruption that toppled his elected predecessor.
“Bring Jimmy Morales to justice,” chanted protesting students in unison as they marched towards the presidential palace in the downtown area of the capital city.
“The president wants to guarantee impunity by avoiding criminal prosecution for illicit finance. It is shameful,” said Andrea Ixchiu, an activist from the indigenous area of Totonicapan.
According to the report, the protests have raised the likelihood of a new wave of unrest in the Latin American nation, similar to the one that erupted against the preceding president, Otto Perez, in 2015.
Morales triggered international censure on Sunday after he ordered the expulsion from the country of Ivan Velasquez, head of the UN International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
Guatemalans rally to demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales in front of the Culture Palace in Guatemala City, on August 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The move by Guatemalan president was condemned by a grouping of 80 Latin American civil society organizations through a statement released on Monday by the Due Process of Law Foundation.
It said Morales’s decision “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.”
However, Morales claimed on Sunday that he ordered Velasquez -- a Colombian national -- to be expelled from Guatemala “for the good of the country and not for personal motives.”
The president further asserted, “He meddled in domestic affairs that are the sole responsibility of the Guatemalan state” and “tried to pressure lawmakers to pass constitutional reforms.”
This is while the head of the country’s Constitutional Court, Francisco Mata, temporarily suspended Morales’s order.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed “shock” over Morales’s move.
However, the Guatemalan government announced at a cabinet meeting on Monday that Morales enjoyed the support of most of his cabinet ministers. A spokesman for the country’s military was also cited as saying on Sunday that the army remained loyal to Morales.
Investigators say Morales is suspected of failing to declare electoral campaign funds. They estimate the value of the suspect transactions at nearly $1.0 million.
Velasquez and Guatemalan prosecutors applied to strip Morales of his immunity on Friday so he can come under investigation over the payments linked to his party, the National Convergence Front.

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