The President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales said on Wednesday that he and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres have agreed to appoint a new head for the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which has been trying to investigate the president, but a U.N. spokeswoman denied the claim.
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“The Commissioner Ivan Velasquez continues in his role, even though he’s outside of the country and in this moment we’re in the process of naming a deputy commissioner as soon as possible,” spokeswoman Florencia Soto told Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre.
On Wednesday, Morales told members of the press that he discussed the issue with Guterres after his speech at the U.N. General Assembly, in which they supposedly agreed that changing the commissioner “would be the solution.”
Morales used his speech to attack the U.N.-backed anti-graft commission in the name of sovereignty, calling it a “threat to security” and claiming it had violated the constitution and protected corrupt politicians.
He also said both parties had appointed special commissions to search for a replacement for Velasquez, of Colombian origin. The new commissioner would in turn be in charge of shutting down the CICIG and transferring its duties to government institutions.
Morales also said Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel is already holding talks with friendly countries in search of a replacement.
However, Soto said there was no programmed appointment with the Guatemalan government and didn’t say anything about the alleged agreement.
Guterres had previously said he disagreed with Morales’ decision to end CICIG’s presence in the country and refused his petition to name a replacement for Velasquez: “I don’t see any reason to take away the existent confidence in Commissioner Velasquez,” he said.
Critics of Morales’ administration claim the move aims to prevent investigation of the president, as the CICIG has demanded his impeachment on corruption charges.
The government previously said CICIG’s mandate won’t be renewed in 2019, once its current term ends, and Velasquez was not allowed back into the country after meeting with Guterres in Washington.
The United Nations then announced it would name a new deputy commissioner in the country to carry out the duties Velasquez can’t manage abroad.
Responsibility for appointing a new CICIG head, however, rests solely with UN Secretary General Guterres.