GUATEMALA must be cleansed of corruption, a Nobel Peace Prize winner warned last week.
In the wake of the congressional election of Ramiro de Leon Carpio. which brought to an end the short-lived attempt at dictatorial rule by Jorge Serrano Elias, Rigoberta Menchu told the Guatemalan people to sweep their country free of corruption and "impunity'",
Ms Menchu, winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. told Vatican Radio that Guatemalans welcomed the new president, who replaced Serrano, who was ousted by a bloodless army coup after he suspended the constitution. President De Leon, Ms Menchu said, must act quickly to end the 33-year-old civil war, stop human rights abuses, and bring the guilty to justice.
Ms Menchu said the Guatemalan people expected a lot of de Leon. because of his past as the Government's human rights ombudsman. "Now that he is President, he can put into practice many of the proposals he advanced — without being listened to — when he was the attorney for human rights" she said.
Church leaders in Guatemala welcomed de Leon's election last week as a triumph for democracy. The country's most famous human rights activist was elected after then-president Serrano suspended the constitution. dissolved Congress and the Supreme Court. and tried to clamp down on human rights.
The most immediate challenge before the new president. according to Ms Menchu, was to end the civil war. "The president has the task of taking concrete steps in this regard, and I believe he can do it", she said.
In his inaugural speech, de Leon pledged to dedicate himself to "fighting for justice, for the creation of a more dignified society."