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Guatemala

Guatemala's president sparks constitutional crisis by trying to expel U.N. anti-corruption official

On Sunday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales ordered the head of a United Nations anti-corruption commission expelled from the country, prompting at least one Cabinet minister to resign in protest and drawing international condemnation. The country's Constitutional Court temporarily suspended the order to kick out the U.N. official, Ivan Velasquez, while it examined the case and the possibility that Morales had a strong conflict of interest. Guatemala's chief prosecutor, Thelma Aldana, stood beside Velasquez on Friday and announced that the two of them had asked a court to start the procedure to lift Morales' presidential immunity, so he could face allegations of illegal campaign financing.

Morales took office in January 2016, after the U.N. anti-corruption commission had forced out his predecessor, Otto Perez Molina, and his vice president in 2015. The anti-corruption campaign proved popular, and Morales ran on the slogan, "Neither corrupt nor a cork." Some analysts said that trying to expel Velasquez could lead to Morales' downfall, too. "It's going to be a matter of days, maybe even hours," said Jo-Marie Burt, a senior fellow with the Washington Office on Latin America. "His presidency in my mind is over."