Presidential inauguration in Guatemala marred by protests

GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei took office on Tuesday in a ceremony overshadowed by delays and protests against outgoing officials seeking immunity from prosecution, a reminder of the country’s deep-seated political corruption.
The 63-year-old Giammattei, a former surgeon and ex-prison chief, apologised on Twitter to guests and Guatemalans for the five-hour wait beyond the scheduled time.
Giammattei, who won the top office on his fourth attempt and uses crutches because of multiple sclerosis, took to the stage to a Spanish version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” He said change had begun in Central America’s most populous nation. Because of the delays, the head of the US delegation, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left for a flight back to Washington before the ceremony started, as did Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf. Earlier they met Giammattei to discuss immigration.
The new president took a hard line in the inaugural speech on crime and corruption that he said had kept Guatemala poor.
“Today, we are putting a full stop on corrupt practices so they disappear from the face of this country,” Giammattei said, saying he would investigate recent graft, in what could be a seen as a warning to the previous administration. However, Giammattei’s strategy to uproot corruption from political life will be closely watched after his predecessor, fellow conservative Jimmy Morales, chased out a UN-backed anti-corruption body investigating him and his family.
Most right-of centre politicians, including Giammattei, came to see the corruption body, known as CICIG, as an unacceptable violation on Guatemala’s sovereignty. Giammattei said he will quickly create a anti-corruption force tied to the president’s office instead.
Hours after his term ended, Morales was roughly treated by protesters and hit by eggs and a plastic projectile as he tried to take up a seat in a regional parliament that would offer him some protection from prosecution. — Reuters