Guatemala President holds on to power despite corruption scandal | News | DW | 23.08.2015
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Guatemala President holds on to power despite corruption scandal

Two Guatemalan government ministers and a commissioner have stepped down in the wake of corruption accusations against President Otto Perez Molina. The head of state is resisting calls for his resignation.

Economy Minister Sergio de la Torre, Education Minister Cynthia Del Aguila and Competitiveness Commissioner Juan Carlos Paiz all resigned on Saturday following accusations by prosecutors against President Otto Perez Molina in a multimillion-dollar fraud case. De la Torre said "we can no longer continue in this government."

With just over two weeks until general elections on September 6, President Perez Molina has refused to resign, according to his spokesman on Saturday. Perez Molina has repeatedly denied involvement.

There were demonstrations in the capital, Guatemala City, on Saturday with protesters calling for the president to step down and for an end to corruption. The Guatemalan chamber of commerce and the country's attorney general have also called for Perez Molina to resign.

Attorney General Thelma Aldana said it was "highly probable that the president of the republic may have participated" in the corruption ring.

A UN investigative commission said it has uncovered extensive evidence implicating Perez in corruption.

A 64-year-old retired general and conservative whose term ends in January, Perez cannot run for re-election under the constitution. He was elected in 2012.

Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti is in detention, implicated in the highly organized "La Linea" (Line) scheme, which allegedly reduced importers' customs duties in exchange for bribes.

Baldetti's top aid, Juan Carlos Monzon, was accused of running the scheme in May. He is still at large. So far 27 people have been arrested in connection with the corruption ring. Many of them are high government officials.

jm/bw (EFE, AFP)

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