GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala's vice president has resigned amid a customs corruption scandal that implicated her former private secretary and opened her up to an investigation.
Baldetti said in a resignation letter late Friday that the move means she is giving up her immunity from prosecution and promised "to collaborate with all investigations" into the graft scheme.
President Oscar Perez Molina said called the decision "brave" and said it was a personal decision.
Baldetti, 52, is the first Guatemalan vice president to step down due to a corruption case, although prosecutors have not implicated her in the scandal and she denies involvement.
The resignation shows the continuing impact of a U.N. commission that has been investigating criminal networks and fighting impunity in Guatemala since 2007. It worked with prosecutors who brought charges in the customs case.
Baldetti's former aide, Juan Carlos Monzon Rojas, is alleged to have been the ringleader of a scheme to defraud the state of millions of dollars by taking bribes in exchange for lower customs duties. Monzon's last known whereabouts were overseas, and he is currently being sought by authorities.
Recent days had seen rising calls for Baldetti's resignation by protesters and influential business leaders. The country's Constitutional Court has ruled that congress would have the power to strip her of the immunity from prosecution that came with her office.
After the announcement, hundreds of people celebrated in the streets of the capital, shooting off firecrackers and honking horns.
"Roxana's resignation is a victory for the people!" jubilant protesters chanted in central Constitution Square.
Perez Molina said he would send congress a list of three names from which a new vice president can be selected.
A former journalist and businesswoman, Baldetti was a founding member of Perez Molina's conservative Patriotic Party in 2001 and has been its secretary general.
At least 50 private citizens and public officials, including Guatemala's current and former tax chiefs, are suspects in the customs scandal. Prosecutors said 27 are in custody.
Earlier Friday, authorities arrested five lawyers who allegedly bribed a judge to free suspects jailed in connection with the case.
Prosecutors and a U.N. investigative commission said the attorneys paid Judge Marta Sierra Stalling to release the three suspects on bail.
Authorities revoked bail and were seeking to lift Sierra Stalling's judicial immunity in order to launch an investigation.