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Guatemalans step up protests of president's attacks on anti-graft body
World | incidents | 09:54, 12 September 2018 | 490

AKIPRESS.COM - Thousands of people blocked a major highway in Guatemala’s western highlands while others protested in front of Congress on Tuesday to demand that President Jimmy Morales allow a U.N.-backed anti-graft body to operate, Reuters reports.

Bearing anti-Morales signs and dressed in colorful traditional clothing, indigenous Maya protested Morales’ decision not to renew the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and to ban the group’s leader, Ivan Velasquez, from returning to the country, TV images showed.

Both measures have been harshly criticized by domestic and international observers as a step back in Guatemala’s fight against corruption.

The crowd largely lifted the highway blockade at late afternoon, according to Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre.

In Guatemala City, demonstrators clustered in front of Congress to protest actions against the CICIG as well as two legislative initiatives: one that would give the legislature power to oversee the process of stripping politicians of their immunity and another that would permit almost 80 congressmen who have defected from the opposition to join Morales’ party.

Congress President Alvaro Arzu Escobar said that the demonstration disrupted Tuesday’s session in which the initiatives were meant to be discussed.

“It’s unfortunate that a small group of violent people volunteered to block work for thousands of Guatemalans and the Legislative Body,” he said in a statement.

Congress is scheduled to resume the session on Thursday.

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