Executive Branch Reform: Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace

Agreement on Constitutional Reforms and the Electoral Regime (Stockholm, 7 December 1996)

Functions of the President of the Republic

23. Sponsor in the Congress of the Republic an amendment to article 183 of the Constitution which would include the following:

"Delete paragraph (r) of article 183 and amend the wording of paragraph (t) to read: 'To grant special pensions'".

24. With regard to the functions of the President of the Republic, it has been agreed to sponsor the inclusion of the following in article 183:

"Where the normal means for the maintenance of public order and internal peace have been exhausted, the President of the Republic may, on an exceptional basis, use the armed forces for this purpose. The action of the armed forces shall always be temporary, shall be conducted under civilian authority and shall involve no limitation whatsoever on the exercise of the constitutional rights of citizens.

"To order these exceptional measures, the President of the Republic shall issue the corresponding agreement. The action of the armed forces shall be limited to such time and modalities as are strictly necessary and shall cease as soon as its purpose has been achieved. The President of the Republic shall keep the Congress informed of the operations of the armed forces, and the Congress may at any time order that such operations shall cease. In any event, within 15 days following the end of such operations, the President of the Republic shall submit to the Congress a detailed report on the action of the armed forces."

25. Sponsor in the Congress of the Republic an amendment whereby the final sentence of paragraph (b) of article 246 of the Constitution, which reads: "He may, likewise, approve special pensions", would be deleted.

26. Also sponsor the redrafting of the first paragraph of article 246 so that it reads as follows:

"The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and shall issue his orders through the Minister of National Defence, whether the Minister is a civilian or a member of the armed forces."

Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and the Role of the Armed Forces in Democratic Society (Mexico City, 19 September 1996)

D. Presidency of the Republic

Constitutional amendments

45. The Government shall sponsor in the Guatemalan Congress the following amendments to the Guatemalan Political Constitution:

(a) With regard to the functions of the President of the Republic, include the following:

"When the ordinary means for the maintenance of public order and domestic peace are exhausted, the President of the Republic may exceptionally use the armed forces for this purpose. The deployment of the armed forces shall always be temporary, shall be conducted under civilian authority and shall not involve any limitation on the exercise of the constitutional rights of citizens.

"In order to take these exceptional measures, the President of the Republic shall issue an agreement to that end. The operations of the armed forces shall be limited to the time and modalities which are strictly necessary, and shall end as soon as the purpose has been achieved. The President of the Republic shall keep Congress informed about the operations of the armed forces, and Congress may at any time decide that such operations should cease. At all events, within 15 days of the end of such operations, the President of the Republic shall submit to Congress a detailed report on the operations of the armed forces;"

(b) Amend article 246, entitled "Duties and powers of the President over the armed forces", by deleting the sentence in paragraph (b) of that article which reads: "He may, likewise, approve special pensions";

(c) Amend article 183, entitled "Functions of the President of the Republic", by deleting paragraph (r) and amending the text of paragraph (t) as follows: "To grant special pensions".

Security of the President and Vice-President

46. In order to guarantee the security of the President, Vice-President and their families and provide logistical support for the activities carried out by the Presidency of the Republic, the President of the Republic, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by law and in order to replace the Presidential Chief of Staff, shall organize an appropriate entity as he sees fit.

Implementation History

1997

Intermediate Implementation

The Agreement on the Implementation, Compliance and Verification Timetable for the Peace Agreements stipulated that the constitutional reforms related to the executive branch should be presented to the Congress of the Republic for ratification by 15 April. The Follow-up Commission rescheduled the deadline for 15 May. The Guatemalan government presented the draft constitutional amendments to the Congress on 15 May, thus partially fulfilling the terms of the agreement.1

  • 1. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/51/936), June 30, 1997.
1998

Intermediate Implementation

All 50 constitutional amendments that were submitted by the Government were approved by the Congress in October 1998. The constitution mandated that following this event, they should be submitted to the people for a referendum, scheduled for May 1999.2

  • 2. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/526), November 11, 1999.
1999

Intermediate Implementation

The referendum for the full package of constitutional amendments occurred on 16 May 1999. With low turnout of under 1 million voters, they denied the proposed amendments related to executive branch reform, along with all other proposed amendments. While this vote prevented the complete fulfillment of many components of the peace agreements, the parties to the agreements showed good faith by drafting, submitting and approving the reforms as called for by the accord. Rights and protections for indigenous peoples were featured prominently in the referendum, suggesting that the country was far from reconciled after the end of the civil war.3 In the referendum, 392,223 voted against the reforms related to executive branch and 294,849 voted in favor of the reforms.4

  • 3. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/526), November 11, 1999.
  • 4. "Guatemala: Referendum, 1999," Georgetown University & Organization of American StatesPolitical Database of the Americas (2001), accessed May 23, 2012, http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Elecdata/Guate/ref99.html.
2000

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.