A Guatemalan court blocked the president’s order to expel the head of a U.N. anti-corruption commission investigating his campaign financing.
The constitutional court ordered the government not to carry out the order from President Jimmy Morales to expel Colombian national Ivan Velasquez.
Morales had called for Velasquez’s immediate expulsion “in the interests of the Guatemalan people, for the strengthening of the rule of law and our institutions” in a video published online just hours earlier Sunday.
The announcement follows a move by Velasquez Friday to strip Morales’ immunity in an investigation of alleged illegal payments linked to his party, the National Convergence Front.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was “shocked” to learn that Morales declared Velasquez persona non grata, according to his spokesman.
“He fully expects that Mr. Velasquez will be treated by the Guatemalan authorities with the respect due to his functions as an international civil servant,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Chief prosecutor Thelma Aldana, working with the U.N. commission, says that Morales refused to account for more than $800,000 in campaign financing.
About 2,500 people protested in the capital on Saturday, demanding that Morales resign.
The U.N. commission ousted president Otto Perez in 2015 in revealing a corruption scandal. Morales, a former comedian, won subsequent elections and took over the following year.
Velasquez heads the 10-year commission of experts that has worked with Guatemalan prosecutors to root out corruption in the Latin American country.