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News > Latin America

Guatemala: President Morales Announces New Attorney General

  • Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales interviewed the six candidates approved by the Nomination Committee.

    Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales interviewed the six candidates approved by the Nomination Committee. | Photo: Twitter @GuatemalaGob

Published 3 May 2018

Dubious background checks and a biased chart of merits were among critics' main concerns regarding the elimination process.

Guatemala's new attorney general is Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta, a former judge and secretary general, President Jimmy Morales announced on his official Twitter account Thursday.


Guatemalan President Morales to Have Final Say on 'Favorable' General Attorney Pick

With a platform pushing the "promotion of objective policies," Porras won 75 points of support from the Nominating Commission, a delegation of 14 political academics and professionals.

"After carefully analyzing the files and work plans of the six candidates, he decided to appoint the attorney general and head of the Public Ministry in favor of Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta, a law professional," Morales said in the statement.

According to Morales, Porras brings several professional qualities to the table and is armed with a work plan to strengthen and expand the capabilities of the Public Ministry.

The 64-year-old Supreme Court judge has said she intends to observe "impartial and independent criminal prosecution" with regards to the corruption allegations currently being levelled against the president.

The president interviewed the six candidates approved by the Nomination Committee on Monday. Critics said that giving the president the final say in the appointment of the new attorney general could threaten the outcome of any investigation.

Dubious background checks from the Nomination Committee measured against a biased chart of merits were among the main issues connected to the elimination process, critics said.

According to one corruption lawyer, Ramon Cadena, the personality and professional interviews conducted with candidates were insufficient and inadequate, and the committee failed to take into account any of the complaints made against the candidates.

The process to elect the attorney general takes a little more than three months: beginning on January 22 with the first meeting of the Nomination Committee, and ending April 30, when Morales picked the final candidate.

The Public Ministry has a special relationship with the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), an independent organism created by the United Nations to fight corruption and illegal activities linked to the state, all under Guatemalan laws and courts.

Both are supposed to work hand-in-hand in the fight against corruption and impunity, but only at the president's request. The current top prosecutor, Thelma Aldana, came into office on 2014, a year before Morales was sworn in. She has been an active collaborator with the CICIG, but this could change if Morales' pick leans too far in his favor.

In 2017, Morales was on the verge of impeachment after the CICIG tried to open an investigation against him. The crisis escalated when the president declared Ivan Velasquez, head of the CICIG and a Colombian national, persona non grata to impede his investigation.

Nationwide protests erupted afterwards in what was one of the worst crises of Morales' administration.

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