State Dept ‘deeply concerned’ by Guatemalan president's move to oust UN official

State Dept ‘deeply concerned’ by Guatemalan president's move to oust UN official

State Department offcials are “deeply concerned” by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ move to oust a U.N. official from the country, according to the agency.

Morales on Sunday ordered Iván Velásquez, the head of the U.N. anti-corruption commission, out of the country. Morales announced the decision in a video posted on Twitter, the AP reported.

“Mr. Velásquez has been an effective leader of [the United Nation's International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala] in its fight against corruption in Guatemala,” the State Department said in a statement.

“CICIG has played and should continue to play an important role in strengthening Guatemalan institutions and tackling the corruption that undermines security and prosperity in Guatemala," the statement said. "It remains crucial that CICIG be permitted to work free from interference by the Guatemalan government.”

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Velásquez is seeking to investigate Morales for campaign finance violations.

Prior to the State Department‘s announcement, top Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), warned that U.S. aid to Guatemala could be affected if Velásquez is removed.

Engel, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday that the U.S. government “must examine the future of our foreign assistance” to Guatemala in light of Morales’s decision.

He expressed disappointment in Morales’s move, but praised the U.N. anti-corruption commission for its work against impunity and corruption in Guatemala.

Guatemala’s Constitutional Court subsequently blocked Morales’s order.

- This report was updated at 7:22 p.m.