GUATEMALA CITY, Sept. 3 (UPI) — President of Guatemala Otto Perez Molina resigned Wednesday soon after a warrant was issued for his arrest for his alleged involvement in a bribery and corruption scandal.
Perez Molina’s resignation was announced early Thursday. Vice President Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre will serve as president until the end of Perez Molina’s term in January.
Perez Molina, 64, is facing charges of fraud, illicit association and corruption. His lawyer, César Calderón, said his client will turn himself in to police to avoid capture.
“The president has not run away, has not hidden, will not flee and will not seek asylum,” Calderón told CNN Español.
More than 30 people have been arrested as part of the scandal, including former Vice President Roxana Baldetti, who was detained Aug. 21 on corruption charges three months after being forced out of office.
Those linked to the scandal are accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from businessmen who were attempting to avoid more expensive tariffs.
“We are convinced that [Perez Molina] is involved,” Guatemala’s Attorney General Thelma Aldana said Wednesday.
Perez Molina was stripped of immunity from prosecution on Tuesday after an unanimous vote by Guatemala’s Congress after months of protests by citizens.
“Justice can reach anybody,” Aldana said after the vote, adding that it is “very painful, very worrying that a president in office should be submitted to a criminal trial.”
In late August, as evidence began pointing toward Perez Molina in the bribery and corruption scandal, he rejected calls for his resignation.
“I will not resign, and I will fully face and submit to the procedures that correspond to the law,” Perez Molina said in a televised address on Aug. 23. “I categorically reject any link.”
The scandal caused fierce, daily protests in Guatemala. Multiple government ministers and allies to the president, who are not connected to the scandal, resigned in attempts to distance themselves from a government that has lost credibility.
Guatemala is set for presidential elections beginning Sunday with a second round expected later in October.