Guatemalan vice president resigns amid corruption scandal

Guatemalan vice president resigns amid corruption scandal

GUATEMALA CITY - Guatemalan President Otto Perez announced Friday that his vice president, Roxana Baldetti, was resigning after one of her top aides was accused of participating in a customs bribery ring.

The announcement came two days after Guatemala's Supreme Court called on Congress to remove Baldetti's immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for possible legal action against the vice president.

Perez said Baldetti had voluntarily left the post "in order to participate in and collaborate with the necessary investigations and above all with due process of the law."

"Her decision is personal, thoughtful, tough and brave," Perez said, as he announced her resignation.

Nearly three weeks ago prosecutors uncovered the customs bribery ring following an investigation by the UN International Commission Against Impunity, accusing top tax officials and Baldetti aide Juan Carlos Monzon of involvement.

The scandal has rocked Guatemala, with some calling for Baldetti and Perez to resign.

Baldetti and Monzon were on an official trip to South Korea as the ring was uncovered, and Monzon, who has been missing since, is thought to be hiding out in Honduras.

Baldetti tried to distance herself from the case upon returning to Guatemala, stating that she had been unaware of Monzon's involvement.

The investigation also netted the head of Guatemala's tax administration, his predecessor and several dozen other agency officials.

Following Baldetti's resignation announcement, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke urged "all Guatemalans to support the governmental institutions that investigate and prosecute allegations of corruption."

"We support President Otto Perez Molina and his administration's efforts to address charges of official corruption in Guatemala," he said in a statement.

"Guatemala has been and remains a strong partner of the United States," he added.

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