The Latest: Guatemala indigenous protest to back UN official

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Posted: Aug 28, 2017 4:15 PM
The Latest: Guatemala indigenous protest to back UN official

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The latest on the effort by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to expel the head of a U.N. anti-corruption agency (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

Indigenous groups in Guatemala are blocking a major interchange on the Inter-American Highway to protest the president's attempt to expel the head of U.N. anti-corruption commission that has been investigating graft in the country.

The indigenous mayor of Solola in south-central Guatemala said Monday that the highway is being blocked at Los Encuentros to show support for commission head Ivan Velasquez. Mayor Tomas Saloj said the demonstration is also a message against corruption.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced early Sunday that he had ordered Velasquez's expulsion for overstepping his authority. The Constitutional Court suspended that order, but Morales stood by it.

Morales' move came two days after Velasquez and the country's chief prosecutor announced that they were seeking removal of the president's immunity against prosecution so they could investigate him for illegal campaign financing.

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12:40 p.m.

Guatemala's chief prosecutor says President Jimmy Morales must obey an injunction by the country's top court that suspends his order to expel the head of the U.N.'s anti-corruption commission.

Prosecutor Thelma Aldana has worked closely with commission chief Ivan Velasquez and says he has her unconditional support.

The Constitutional Court on Sunday blocked Morales' expulsion of Velasquez. But the president appeared to set up a constitutional crisis by saying he's sticking with his demand. Still, there have been no signs so far that officials have tried to physically force Velasquez out of the country.

Aldana told a news conference Monday that she's willing to meet with Morales and give him the respect he deserves.

Aldana and Velasquez said last week they were asking authorities to remove Morales' immunity from prosecution so they can pursue an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations.

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7:10 a.m.

Guatemala's chief prosecutor Thelma Aldana says she's giving unconditional support to the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission who the president has ordered to leave the country.

Adana issued a statement late Sunday saying the Constitutional Court's order suspending the president's expulsion order for Ivan Velasquez must be obeyed. She's worked closely with Velasquez.

President Jimmy Morales plunged the country into a constitutional crisis Sunday by standing firm on his order to remove Velasquez even after the court suspended the order.

Now Guatemalans will watch the courts closely to see what the definitive ruling is on Velasquez and whether Morales' immunity will be lifted as Aldana and Velasquez requested on Friday.