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GUATEMALA CITY – The head of a U.N.-backed commission probing corruption in Guatemala was barred from re-entering the country Tuesday, further defanging the investigative body days after President Jimmy Morales announced he would not renew its mandate.
In a statement, the government said Morales had communicated the decision to the U.N. secretary-general and asked for him to name a replacement for Ivan Velasquez, who along with Guatemalan prosecutors has pressed a number of high-profile graft investigations including against Morales himself.
The statement called Velasquez "a person who attacks order and public security; affecting governance, institutionality, justice and peace in the country."
Velasquez had traveled to Washington for meetings about the commission's work.
Morales announced last Friday that he was winding down the commission's work in Guatemala, giving it until September 2019 when its current term expires to transfer its capacities to local institutions.
Known as CICIG for its initials in Spanish, the commission has led high-profile probes against Morales and some of his associates.
Morales is suspected of receiving at least $1 million in illicit financing during the 2015 campaign. He denies wrongdoing.
In August the country's Supreme Court allowed congress to consider a request to lift the immunity of office Morales enjoys as president.
If lawmakers approve the request, that would legally open him up to formal investigation and possible prosecution.
Last year Morales declared Velasquez persona non grata and tried to have him expelled, but that was blocked by the country's top court.
The most high-profile corruption case brought by CICIG and Guatemalan prosecutors led to the resignation and jailing of former President Otto Perez Molina and his vice president.