Guatemala President keeps his seat despite fraud allegations

Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina rejects calls for his resignation saying “my conscience is clear” over corruption allegations

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Denying the corruption allegations against him, Guatemala President Otto Pérez Molina announced on Sunday that he won't resign from his position despite soaring pressure on him and current government for impeachment.

Following the resignation of eight members from his cabinet over the week and also detention of a former vice president Roxana Baldetti on Sunday, forced him to make a statement on his current approach over the allegations.

The bribery scheme rocked the country’s political forces initially in April, then outputs of the scandal had extended to swallow President Otto Perez Molina and former Vice President Roxana Baldetti who could not take stand against the allegations as strongly as Mr Perez Molina.

The extension of the scandal also caused detention of country’s Tax Authority Director Omar Franco and the agency's former boss, Carlos Munoz, in a raid carried out by prosecutors who were working in a tandem with a UN commission to unveil criminals who involved in the fraud scheme.  

Just hours after the detention of Baldetti, the head of an international team of anticorruption prosecutors, Attorney General Thelma Aldana and Iván Velásquez said that all tracks pointed to Mr. Pérez Molina and Ms.Baldetti as main actors of the bribery scheme.

“From the evidence seized in raids along with wiretaps, it is probable that the president of the republic has participated in committing the same punishable conduct” as the other suspects in the scheme, Ms. Aldana said.

“There is no doubt that the references ‘The 1’ and ‘The 2’ correspond to the president and the vice president of the republic” Mr. Velásquez said, referring the wiretaps.

As a result of the ongoing investigations, nearly 30 suspects have been arrested so far for their involvement in the scandal, taking millions of dollars from businessmen as bribes in order to avoid higher import duties , according to country’s prosecutors.

“I will not resign, and I will fully face and submit to the procedures that correspond to the law,” Mr. Pérez Molina said in a televised address to the nation, adding that his conscience was clear.  

Tens of thousands people held a demonstration on Sunday near the presidential palace shouting with one voice “Resign now!” referring to Mr. Perez Molina. Waving the Guatemalan flag, the group also sang the national anthem.

 It appears that the demonstrations will maintain until this year’s presidential election which will hold in early September, due to electoral law's not allowing Perez Molina to seek for another term.

TRTWorld and agencies