Guatemala said Monday that is withdrawing from the UN-backed independent International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in a move that provoked a strong rejection from the United Nations.
Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel made the announcement at a press conference in New York where she also presented UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with a letter informing him of Guatemala’s decision.
The foreign minister said that the agreement between the UN and the CICIG must be revoked within 24 hours and that the commission’s staff would be asked to leave the country.
Guterres “strongly” rejected the decision and called on Guatemala to abide by the CICIG mandate which expires in September.
“Until that date, we expect the Government of Guatemala to entirely fulfil its legal obligations under the Agreement,” a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement Monday.
The UN-run organization is probing President Jimmy Morales campaign financing.
The CICIG has been supporting Guatemala in its fight against corruption and organized crime for over a decade. Investigations by the body have implicated dozens of government officials and brought down former president Otto Perez Molina in 2015.
In September last year, Guatemala refused to allow CICIG head Ivan Velasquez to enter the country, citing security concerns that his presence would raise.
Velasquez had demanded that President Jimmy Morales’s immunity from prosecution be lifted due to alleged illegal campaign financing.
CICIG has claimed that the source of some 600,000 dollars of Morales’s 2015 election funding is unknown.
Guatemala is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Guatemala’s Attorney General Thelma Aldana and UN investigator Ivan Velasquez, a lawyer from Colombia, won the Right Livelihood Award, often called “the alternative Nobel prize,” for their investigation of a criminal network that implicated former president Molina.