The Constitutional court of Guatemala has ruled definitively that President Jimmy Morales cannot expel Ivan Velasquez, the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Cicig.
A government spokesperson said that President Morales would abide by the ruling. Morales has been under fire since ordering the U.N. anti-corruption investigator’s expulsion on Sunday. The court provisionally blocked the expulsion the same day. Its latest ruling confirms that one.
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Earlier in the day, dozens of Indigenous people joined a demonstration in the capital Guatemala City to express their support for Velasquez, the most recent in a series of protests against the president’s action.
"For the common good, Ivan stays!" along with "Cicig without Ivan does not make sense," the demonstrators chanted.
"There is an intention to decapitate the Cicig and then eliminate it," Daniel Pascual, coordinator of the Committee of Peasant Unity, CUC, told AFP during the protest outside the organization’s headquarters.
Cicig along with some local prosecutors have made some headway in exposing corruption, earning a reputation for exposing officials, and forcing the former president of Guatemala from office in 2015.
#Urgente Corte de Constitucionalidad de #Guatemala ordena no expulsar a Iván Velásquez de CICIG en definitiva.
— Mario Rosales (@MarioteleSUR) August 29, 2017
Indigenous groups blocked a major road on the Inter-American Highway to show support for Velazquez, while in the cities, small student-led protests continue to grow.
They represent at least 42 percent of the 16 million people living in Guatemala. Most communities suffer from extreme poverty and malnutrition.
Thelma Aldana, Guatemala’s Attorney General, has expressed her unconditional support for Velasquez.
In a joint probe with Aldana, Velasquez has been investigating allegations of graft involving the President’s older brother Sammy Morales and Jose Manuel Morales, one the president’s sons.
On Friday, Velasquez said there was evidence that Jimmy Morales had broken laws when he was the head of his political party and prosecutors had filed a motion to investigate the him.
In a statement, the president’s office said, "The President of the Republic has been and is respectful of the law and due process, and thus is confident in the objectivity of justice."
The U.N. Secretary-General, António Guterres said he was shocked at Morales’ demand.
"He fully expects that [Iván] Velásquez will be treated by the Guatemalan authorities with the respect due to his functions as an international civil servant," he said in a statement issued Sunday by the Secretary-General’s Spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also expressed concern over Morales’ decision to expel the head of the Cicig.
"I am deeply worried about the unprecedented decision of the president of Guatemala," Hussein said in a statement. He also urged the Guatemalan government to let the Cicig carry out its work without any "obstacles."
Morales’ order of expulsion of the Colombian commissioner came on Sunday, with Morales stating, he "meddled in domestic affairs that are the sole responsibility of the Guatemalan state."
But Guatemala’s highest court quickly blocked the President’s request to expel the U.N. official as disapproval over his decision poured in from the international community. So far, at least 8 high-ranking officials have reportedly resigned in protest and two, including the foreign minister.
"You take a stand in favor of impunity and corrupt sectors of the country, contradicting all statements about justice and transparency. Faced with these arrogant actions that seem aimed at obstructing justice, we consider that the work plan that we were developing ceases to be ethically and politically unviable in a government such as yours," Hernandez Mack, former health minister, the first to resign said in the official resignation letter.