Guatemala City – Guatemalan President, Otto Perez, dismissed corruption allegations, saying on Sunday that he would not stand down, in spite of pressures and calls for his impeachment as a presidential election looms.
In a recorded address that was televised to the nation, an Perez said he had received no money from the customs racket to which investigators have linked him.
Guatemala’s Attorney-General and a U.N.-backed anti-corruption body known as the CICIG sought to impeach Perez on Friday after months of investigation.
The investigation involved the racket known as La Linea, or ‘the line’, after a phone hotline used in the scandal.
“I will not resign and will fully submit myself to the legal process. I categorically reject any link to the scandal,” said Perez, a 64-year-old retired general.
Perez also took a swipe at sectors of the international community he said were `seeking to intervene’ in Guatemalan democracy. He did not specify to whom he was referring.
Investigations led by the CICIG have battered Guatemala’s political establishment and also engulfed the running mate of the favorite to succeed Perez, casting doubt on the outcome of the race.
On Friday, former Vice President, Roxana Baldetti, was arrested over the La Linea scandal. Attorney-General, Thelma Aldana, submitted a bid to impeach Perez later that day.
Perez’s agriculture and health ministers both quit his cabinet on Sunday, following in the footsteps of two others on Saturday who said they could no longer serve in his government.
Baldetti, who stood down in May and was arrested on Friday while receiving treatment at a hospital, is suspected of illicit association, bribery and fraud linked to the customs racket.
Prosecutors say Perez was at the head of the scam. (Reuters/NAN)