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Sweden criticizes Guatemala's 'unfortunate' request to remove ambassador

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Sweden criticizes Guatemala's 'unfortunate' request to remove ambassador
Swedish diplomat Anders Kompass. Photo: AP Photo/Moises Castillo
08:12 CEST+02:00
Guatemala urged Sweden to remove its ambassador Anders Kompass from the country after its foreign minister said he had referred to Guatemalan society as corrupt.

It asked the same of Venezuela, accusing the diplomats of interfering in domestic affairs.

"You all know perfectly well that at one point, Ambassador Kompass called all of Guatemalan society corrupt, and that's not something we accept, nor will we tolerate, because that's not how it is," said Guatemala's foreign minister, Sandra Jovel, at a press conference.

The official statement stressed that the ambassadors had neither been expelled nor declared personae non gratae, but it urged Sweden and Venezuela to recall the two diplomats.

Sweden is a strong backer of the UN's International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig), an anti-corruption organization which has been at odds with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. But Guatemala said the decision was not linked to Sweden's support of Cicig.

Kompass, who became known to the wider public when he in 2016 revealed that the UN had covered up dozens of cases of sex abuse, reportedly did make mention of "a corrupt society" in comments made during a ceremony in January this year in which Sweden donated funds to Cicig.

He added that Cicig is a "powerful medicine" for Guatemala, but also said that he did "not think it was correct" to say that the entire culture in the country was bad, reported Reuters.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement: "This is very unfortunate. We are now going to seek further explanations from the government of Guatemala and then decide on a course of action."

"In this case, as in other similar cases, the government will keep its comments to a minimum.Sweden's views and action on issues regarding human rights and anti-corruption are well known," she added.

Kompass has 30 days to return to Sweden, a foreign ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The 62-year-old became widely known as a UN whistleblower who was suspended in 2015 for leaking a report to France about child abuse by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.

He resigned from his position as the director of field operations for the UN human rights office (OHCHR) the following year over the organization's failure to hold senior officials to account.

Kompass was appointed as Swedish ambassador to Guatemala in the autumn of 2017. President Morales had initially decided to not approve Kompass as an ambassador, sources told Swedish radio.

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