President Jimmy Morales says his elimination of the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) was his decision to make under the law.
When asked whether or not Morales would abide by the Constitutional Court (CC) ruling to reinstate the commission that the president unilaterally shut down in late August, the head of state responded: "Galileo Galilei was told not to say that the earth moved, and then he said the earth moves. That's the answer."
In August, President Morales said he would end the commission’s mandate when it expires in September 2019. At that time he also prohibited its director, Ivan Velasquez, from reentering Guatemala from his home country of Colombia and ordered the government to withhold the passports of over 30 of its employees. This all unfolded just days after the commission was getting closer and closer to investigating the president and his National Party (NP), for illicit campaign financing during Morales’ 2016 run for head of state, among other charges.
In September 2017 the Guatemalan Congress granted the president prosecutorial immunity, which, after three attempts, was revoked in late August and a congressional committee was announced to investigate the president and several of his close political allies, under pressure from CICIG and the state prosecutor's office.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Morales accused the CICIG and its director of committing “excesses." The administration has made several failed attempts to annul the highest court’s decision.
Morales has told the media several times he was working with the United Nations to find a replacement for Velasquez, a statement a U.N. spokeswoman denied on Wednesday.
The president spoke of how he wants to proceed with the CICIG investigations: “everything under the law, everything with peace. The only thing that we need to do now is to investigate any elements that seem dark.
"Guatemala definitely has dignity, has sovereignty, its institutions, so after 12 years of work we decided not to renew the next mandate," said Morales to the press, referring to the creation of CICIG in 2006.
The president added Wednesday that CICIG had “illegally raided” the “presidential compound” in 2015 but said in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week that the Presidential Palace had been searched.