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article imageGuatemala protesters call on President Morales to quit

By AFP     Apr 24, 2018 in World

Thousands of Guatemalan protesters including farmers, activists and indigenous groups, marched through the capital of the Central American country Tuesday to demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales, who faces allegations of campaign finance corruption.

The protesters converged on the historic center of Guatemala City demanding not only that Morales quit, but that members of Congress who have refused to strip him of his legal immunity so he can be fully investigated also step down.

"We demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales and the corrupt deputies," said Erika Martinez, head of the Committee for Rural Development in Guatemala, the organization that called the protests.

The crowds took almost six hours to march from all corners of the city, occupying public squares as they went, before converging in the center where speaker after speaker ripped into the government.

Morales, a 49-year-old former television comedian, has spent the past eight months denying that his right-wing FCN-Nation party received campaign donations which it failed to report to the Supreme Court, as it was required by law to do.

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a UN-sponsored body charged with fighting corruption in the country, has backed prosecutors' calls for Morales' presidential immunity to be lifted, to allow investigators to properly delve into the case, but Congress has so far sidestepped any move to do so.

Both prosecutors and CICIG announced last week a second investigation into allegations that Morales had skirted the rules on reporting campaign funds in order to accept a million dollars' worth of donations from business leaders to his party.

Protesters carried placards that repeated Morales' campaign slogan that promised "no corruption, no thieves" and called his election a "fraud."

The march organizers also demanded an investigation into links between organized crime and the judicial sector -- following the revelation earlier this year of a bribery ring led by a high-profile lawyer designed to rig elections for supreme court justices.

Martinez said they are demanding assurances that the country's next chief prosecutor will have "no links to corruption."

Morales has until mid-May to replace Thelma Aldana, the current attorney general who has worked with CICIG to combat public sector fraud.

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