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article imageGuatemala president's immunity should be lifted, lawmakers say

By AFP     Sep 11, 2017 in World

A congressional committee in Guatemala has recommended President Jimmy Morales' immunity be lifted to face a UN-backed probe into suspected illegal campaign financing in the 2015 election that brought him to power.

"We declare ourselves in favor of the immunity being lifted," the head of the commission, Julio Ixcamey, told journalists.

The issue will now go to the 158-member Congress for a vote.

At least 105 deputies need to back the motion to lift Morales' immunity. But analysts believe that is unlikely, given the alliances that the president's conservative National Convergence Front party has.

Morales is under investigation by the UN International Committee Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and Guatemalan prosecutors for allegedly failing to declare $1 million in campaign funding to his party in 2015.

He sparked a storm August 27 by ordering the head of the Colombian CICIG, Ivan Velasquez, out of the country, two days after Velasquez applied to have Morales' immunity lifted.

But Guatemala's top court overruled the order and the CICIG is forging on with its probe.

The CICIG is widely respected in Guatemala. It helped Guatemalan prosecutors investigate a corruption scandal that toppled the previous president, Otto Perez, in 2015, paving the way for the election of Morales, a former TV comic with no previous political experience who campaigned on anti-corruption promises.

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