Authorities in Guatemala have asked Sweden and Venezuela to recall their ambassadors, accusing them of meddling in Guatemalan affairs. Stockholm said the move was "very unfortunate" and pledged to ask for an explanation.
Sweden criticized the Guatemalan government on Friday after the Central American nation instructed Stockholm to withdraw its ambassador, Anders Kompass. The authorities in Guatemala had accused Kompass and the Venezuelan ambassador Elena Alicia Salcedo of interfering in the nation's domestic matters and the Venezuelan envoy was also ordered to leave.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Walstrom called Guatemala's decision "very unfortunate."
"We will now seek further explanations from the Guatemalan government and thereafter consider a course of action," she said.
Kompass has 30 days to return to Sweden.
Read more: Guatemala: The Transparent Congress
A few days earlier, Kompass, a well-known activist and human rights defender, had announced Sweden's financial support for a United Nations-sponsored commission (CICIG) investigating corruption scandals in Guatemala, including those involving Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and his family.
Sweden's top diplomat, Margot Walstrom, hinted that the announcement might be behind the withdrawal on Friday, saying that "Sweden's views and action on issues concerning human rights and fighting corruption are well-known."
But Guatemala has denied Kompass' departure had anything to do with Sweden's support for the CICIG.
"You all know perfectly well that at one point Ambassador Kompass called all of Guatemalan society corrupt, and that's not something we accept, nor will we tolerate, because that's not how it is," Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel told reporters on Thursday.
Jovel clarified that "nobody is being expelled, nor are we declaring anyone non grata. Bilateral relations continue."
ap,dj/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)