Embattled Guatemala President May Face Immunity Vote in Congress

Guatemalan lawmakers may vote Tuesday on whether President Otto Perez Molina should be stripped of his immunity from prosecution for allegedly accepting bribes.

Legislators convened a session for 4 p.m. EST to hear claims by the attorney general that Perez Molina led a customs tax fraud racket that has seen his former Vice President Roxana Baldetti jailed. Both Perez Molina and Baldetti have rejected the accusations. Lawmakers would need 105 votes in the 158-member legislature to remove the president’s immunity.

After 70,000 people took to the streets last month and his economy, health and infrastructure ministers quit, a five-member congressional committee recommended that Perez Molina lose his immunity. If the measure passes, the president could be arrested and placed before a criminal court ahead of a Sept. 6 presidential election. His term ends in January.

Presidential front-runner and former opposition lawmaker Manuel Baldizon said on his Twitter account Tuesday that he would urge his lawmakers “to vote unanimously to revoke President Otto Perez’s immunity.”

Ahead of the Tuesday vote, a group of about 100 Perez Molina supporters prevented workers from entering Congress. Congresswoman Nineth Montenegro said a session could be convened in a different location.

“Everything had been materializing as it should be,” Montenegro said. “Right now the doors to Congress are blocked off and there are people outside with shovels and clubs.”

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