The Latest: Guatemala president firm on removing UN official


The latest on the Guatemalan president’s decision to expel the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission (all times local):

4 p.m.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is standing firm on his decision to expel the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission even after the nation’s top court granted a temporary injunction blocking the order.

In a video statement broadcast Sunday afternoon, Morales says Ivan Velasquez overstepped his authority by improperly pressuring the country’s legislative process and making public accusations against Guatemalans in spite of a presumption of innocence and guarantee of due process.

On Friday, Velasquez and Guatemala’s chief prosecutor announced they were seeking the removal of Morales’ immunity to pursue an investigation into campaign finance violations.

Early Sunday, Morales issued a video message announcing that he ordered Velasquez’s immediate expulsion.

The move was met with immediate condemnation within Guatemala and internationally, and hours later Guatemala’s Constitutional Court temporarily blocked the expulsion order.

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2:40 p.m.

Guatemala’s human rights prosecutor says the head of the U.N. anti-corruption commission is doing well and continues leading the group in spite of an order from President Jimmy Morales that he leave the country.

Jordan Rodas says that he has been with Ivan Velasquez at the commission’s offices to guarantee his security and that Velasquez says he appreciates the support he is getting.

Early Sunday, the president said via a video posted to Twitter that he had ordered the expulsion of Velasquez, but hours later Guatemala’s top court granted a temporary injunction blocking that order.

On Friday, Velasquez and Guatemala’s chief prosecutor announced that they were seeking the removal of Morales’ immunity to pursue an investigation into alleged campaign finance investigations.

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12:15 p.m.

Resistance to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ move to expel the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission appears to be growing.

Guatemala’s Health Minister Lucrecia Hernandez Mack and her deputies announced Sunday they have resigned.

Hernandez says in a public letter that the expulsion of Ivan Velasquez means Morales has taken a position in favor of impunity and the corrupt sectors of the country.

The expulsion order also has been blocked by the country’s top court. And Morales said he had also replaced Foreign Minister Carlos Raul Morales for refusing to carry out his order.

Morales announced via Twitter on Sunday that he has ordered the immediate expulsion of Velasquez. On Friday Velasquez and Guatemala’s chief prosecutor announced they were seeking the removal of Morales’ immunity to investigate him for alleged campaign finance violations.

11:25 a.m.

Guatemala’s Constitutional Court says it has blocked President Jimmy Morales’ order to expel the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission.

Court president Francisco de Mata Vela says that two requests for an injunction had been filed.

Morales announced Sunday via a video posted on Twitter that he was expelling Ivan Velasquez, head of the U.N. commission against impunity and corruption immediately.

On Friday Velasquez and Guatemala’s chief prosecutor announced they would seek the removal of Morales’ immunity so he could be investigated for campaign finance violations.

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10:30 a.m.

A senior U.S. congressman says the ouster of the U.N. anti-corruption chief in Guatemala could affect U.S. aid to the country.

Rep. Eliot Engel is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He says the U.S. government “must examine the future of our foreign assistance” to Guatemala in light of President Jimmy Morales’ decision.

Engel’s Sunday statement expresses disappointment and praises the work of the commission against impunity and corruption in Guatemala under the leadership of Ivan Velasquez.

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10:05 a.m.

The spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general has issued a statement saying that Antonio Guterres “is shocked” by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ decision to order the head of the U.N. anti-corruption commission out of the country.

The statement called for Ivan Velasquez to be treated with the respect he deserves and praised his work in “strengthening justice sector institutions in Guatemala, helping to ensure justice was done in numerous cases.”

Morales announced via a video posted on Twitter Sunday that he was expelling Velasquez. Velasquez and Guatemala’s chief prosecutor had announced Friday that they were requesting Morales’ immunity from prosecution be stripped so he could be investigated for campaign finance violations.

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9:45 a.m.

The embassies of countries backing a U.N. anti-corruption commission in Guatemala are decrying the decision by the country’s president to expel the agency’s chief.

The United States, Germany, Canada, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland and the European Union issued joint statement regretting President Jimmy Morales’ decision to expel Ivan Velasquez.

The statement says the commission “has played a vital role in the fight against impunity” in Guatemala and says the expulsion harms the commission’s ability to achieve its mandate.

View the original article: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-backers-bemoan-expulsion-guatemala-president-49450392

Morales announced the expulsion on Sunday, two days after Velasquez joined the country’s chief prosecutor in seeking a formal investigation into the financing of Morales’ 2015 campaign.

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