Guatemalan opposition politicians fear that the corruption probe into President Otto Perez Molina may be fixed, Guatemala's Prensa Libre reported.
Although a congressional committee recommended stripping Perez Molina of legal immunity on Friday, critics suggest a deal has been struck to rig the process so that the decision can be easily challenged in court and ultimately protect Perez Molina from facing trial for corruption.
A vote in congress to ratify or reject the investigative committee's recommendation is expected next week. A two-thirds majority vote is required in order to remove Perez Molina's immunity from trial.
Opposition members suggest that Perez Molina's Patriotic Party, which holds a the majority of seats in congress but not enough to win a two-thirds majority vote, has struck a deal with the smaller LIDER Party to maintain the president's legal immunity.
Comisión pesquisidora recomienda se de con lugar antejuicio contra Otto Pérez Molina, para que sea investigado. pic.twitter.com/A1zpEikLuV— PrensaComunitaria (@PrensaComunitar) July 3, 2015
“Investigative commission recommends immunity-stripping against Otto Perez Molina, so that he will be investigated.”
Critics point to the selection of the brother of the LIDER Party chief, Salvador Baldizon, as the new head the congressional investigation on Thursday as part of the scheme.
The probe into Perez Molina marks the first time a Guatemalan president has been investigated since 1985. If the congress votes to accept the committee's recommendation and strip Perez Molina of immunity to face trial, it will be an unprecedented move in Guatemala's modern history.
Perez Molina has come under harsh fire as a wave of corruption scandals have embroiled his government, including massive fraud schemes in the country's social security and customs agencies.
Popular protests demanding Perez Molina's resignation have been ongoing since April when fraud scandals first began to surface. Another round of actions, including torch-lit anti-corruption marches mimicking those being held for six consecutive weeks in neighboring Honduras, are planned for Saturday.
Guatemala's political turmoil comes just months before the country's presidential elections this September. Legal term limits bar Perez Molina from running again.