Guatemala president to pull army out of law enforcement

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s president said Wednesday he will withdraw army troops from day-to-day law enforcement duties following accusations that soldiers were involved in corruption and criminal activities.

President Jimmy Morales said that starting March 31, soldiers will be detailed to secure border areas and other strategic points.

.”I want to guarantee the public that we are not diminishing the army, nor are we going to diminish it. We are going to post it strategically when it is needed … in public safety, disasters, food and public health efforts,” Morales said while accompanied by army officials.

Successive administrations have kept the military on the streets, saying they were needed to fight well-armed gangs and drug cartels.

Critics have long said the army’s role in policing violated the 1996 peace accords that put an end to 36 years of civil war.

Morales said the country’s national police forced would be strengthened to compensate for the army’s reassignment.

In recent weeks, one general was linked to the killing of his father over a land dispute. In February, a coronel was arrested as he tried to flee from an airplane carrying drugs.

Army officers have also been put on trial for directing brutal counter-insurgency campaigns between 1960 and 1996.

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