Guatemala`s embattled president has not resigned: spokesman

Guatemalan President Otto Perez refused to resign Saturday, hours after he was accused of being a leader of the corruption scandal that has rocked his country, his spokesman said.

With just over two weeks to go to general elections, prosecutors and officials from a UN investigative commission said they had uncovered extensive evidence implicating Perez and ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti in a massive, highly organized scheme to reduce importers` customs duties in exchange for bribes. 

She has resigned, and was arrested Friday. Business leaders issued a call for Perez to stand down immediately. 

Presidential spokesman Jorge Ortega told AFP that Perez had not resigned.

But several of his cabinet members -- on the heels of Friday`s information -- gave their vote of no confidence by standing down themselves on Saturday. 

Economy Minister Sergio de la Torre; Education Minister Cynthia Del Aguila; and Competitiveness Commissioner Juan Carlos Paiz, all stepped down voicing disappointment at Perez`s alleged starring role in the graft.

The multimillion-dollar fraud case has upended Guatemalan politics since it erupted in April, felling numerous high-ranking officials, forcing Baldetti`s resignation and now reaching the country`s highest office.

"We have found the very regrettable participation of the president of the republic and Mrs Roxana Baldetti at every level of the organization" behind the corruption, said Ivan Velasquez of the UN commission.

The allegations come as Guatemala prepares for general elections on September 6.

Perez, a 64-year-old retired general and conservative whose term ends in January, cannot run for re-election.

On Friday, police arrested Baldetti, 53, at a private hospital where she had been undergoing treatment for gastrointestinal and heart problems. Her arrest came one day after investigators searched her home.

The judge in the case had already ordered her bank accounts frozen and slapped injunctions on 11 properties belonging to her and her husband.

Baldetti resigned as vice president on May 8 after one of her top aides, Juan Carlos Monzon, was accused of running the bribery scheme.

Monzon is still at large.

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