United Nations to aid El Salvador anti-corruption body

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at the Security Council stakeout at the United Nations headquarters in New York, U.S., August 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Thursday it will send a delegation to El Salvador within days as a first step toward supporting a newly unveiled national commission to combat corruption in the Central American country.

Salvadoran Vice President Felix Ulloa welcomed the move, which was announced after he met with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York on Thursday.

“An important ally has joined the fight against corruption and impunity,” Ulloa posted on his official Twitter account.

The new International Commission Against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES) was launched by President Nayib Bukele last week, taking inspiration from a U.N.-backed body that toppled the previous president of neighboring Guatemala.

Bukele said the new body, which also has the backing of the Organization of American States (OAS), will begin by investigating 105 government offices before seeking additional agreements with the country’s attorney general, the Supreme Court and Congress to expand its powers.

Bukele’s February election victory ended three decades of an electoral system dominated by a two party duopoly and was marked by the outsider’s calls to wipe out entrenched graft in the poor, violent country.

Anti-corruption activists credit the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, with cleaning up Guatemala’s government, although the group is now being dismantled by outgoing President Jimmy Morales, himself a target of its probes.

The United Nation’s brief statement on Thursday said that an “interdisciplinary technical assessment mission” will be sent to El Salvador in the coming days.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Jane Wardell