"Guatemalan president resigns amid scandal" by Sonia Perez D. and Alberto Arce Associated Press September 03, 2015
GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s Congress on Thursday unanimously accepted the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina amid a fraud probe that has shaken the country’s political establishment a few days ahead of national elections.
Vice President Alejandro Maldonado, who recently took office after his predecessor resigned in the same kickback scandal, was sworn in as president. He demanded that top officials submit their resignations.
Maldonado then reached out to protesters who took to the streets against the country’s entrenched corruption, promising he would restore faith in Guatemala’s democracy in his brief few months in office.
The political drama played out after a week in which Perez Molina was stripped of his immunity and deserted by key members of his Cabinet. Also, his former vice president was ordered to stand trial.
As Maldonado took office, Perez Molina was in court hearing accusations that he was involved in a scheme in which businesspeople paid bribes to avoid import duties through Guatemala’s customs agency. He is the first Guatemalan president to resign.
A judge later ordered him detained and he was taken to a military barracks. A hearing in his corruption case was scheduled for Friday.
The retired military general insisted upon his innocence in an interview during a break in Thursday’s court proceedings, saying the process had been ‘‘very hard, very difficult.’’
He said he could have derailed the investigation but didn’t. ‘‘I could have replaced the prosecutor, I could have dug in,” Perez Molina said.
Analysts say the resignation was a key blow to entrenched corruption in the country and a boost for rule of law.
‘‘In the midst of this political crisis there is interesting and good news,’’ said Eric Olson, a Central America specialist at the Washington-based Wilson Center. ‘‘The attorney general resisted strong pressures and even asked for the president to be incarcerated ... that shows the institutions in Guatemala under the right circumstances can operate and be effective.’’
Ah, the U.S. seems to approve. I suspect they have kept in power a friendly government despite the wrath of the people. Sometimes it's good to ditch liabilities.
Maldonado will likely remain in office until the winner of upcoming elections is inaugurated next January. The first round is on Sunday, pitting a wealthy businessman and politician against 13 others, including a comedian with no political experience and a former first lady.
If none of the candidates reaches 50 percent, a runoff will be held Oct. 25.
Did that spice up your supper?