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Guatemala President Survives Bid to Strip His Immunity

FILE - Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina arrives at the Army general headquarters in Guatemala City, June 30, 2015.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez scraped through a vote in Congress on Thursday to strip him of immunity from prosecution, avoiding the embarrassment of being investigated over corruption scandals that have felled various senior officials.

More than half of Guatemala's 158-member Congress voted to lift Perez's immunity, but the total fell short of the two-thirds' majority, or 105 votes, needed to carry the motion.

Eighty-eight lawmakers backed the proposal with only 26 voting against it. The body's remaining 44 lawmakers did not vote, including members of the president's right-wing Patriotic Party, which is far short of a majority in Guatemala's Congress.

A series of corruption probes have devastated Perez's Cabinet and in May brought down Vice President Roxana Baldetti.

Baldetti resigned after being linked to an investigation into a customs racket, but she has denied any wrongdoing.

Perez, however, has not been directly accused of any crimes and the remainder of his term at the helm of the Central American country's government is nearly done.

A first round of voting to elect his successor is due in September and Perez is barred by law from seeking re-election.