Guatemalan president Jimmy Morales justified his decision to end the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity, or CICIG, in Guatemala and said that it will not jeopardize investigations into corruption in the country.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, he explained his most recent decision to not renew CICIG's mandate with a year to go before it ends. Morales then banned the return of the head commissioner, Ivan Velasquez, who was in Washington. Velasquez headed the United Nations agency along with the Guatemalan prosecutor's office that investigated local corruption networks.
"The State of Guatemala will respect the current mandate of CICIG and we will be willing to promote an eminently technical methodology (to continue the investigations)," Morales said.
The president went on to note that he regretted the passivity of the UN to resolve differences he had with the CICIG since 2017.
Tensions flared when the commission and prosecution asked for political immunity to be withdrawn to investigate Morales for alleged electoral crimes. In response, Morales asked the UN to dismiss Velasquez as the head commissioner, according to the Associated Press. The international body, however, argued that there were no grounds to dismiss Velasquez.
Guatemalan foreign minister Sandra Jovel criticized CICIG on Thursday for failing to issue rulings, something that would not have been possible because only the judiciary has that power.
He also addressed the secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, saying: "You are at the service of the member states. It is unacceptable and contrary to the purposes of the United Nations that it attempts to become a supranational body, dictating to governments how to exercise their powers that have been delegated by their citizens electorally. Doing so violates the sovereignty of States."
Morales, for his part, said: "he is not obligated to abide by illegal resolutions."