Guatemalan police on Thursday arrested the country’s former interior minister for allegedly not carrying out his duties when he opted for dialogue with protesters rather than using force to remove them as a court had ordered.

Police arrested Napoléon Barrientos at his home, leading him out in handcuffs and a bulletproof vest. Barrientos told reporters he didn’t know why he was being arrested.

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The Attorney General’s Office said in a message to the press that Barrientos hadn’t complied with a court order to maintain public order.

Napoléon Barrientos

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Napoléon Barrientos is escorted by police while awaiting a court hearing in Guatemala City, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Barrientos resigned in October, after weeks of nationwide protests aimed at forcing the resignation of Attorney General Consuelo Porras. The protests were in response to Porras’ persecution of President-elect Bernardo Arévalo, his party and electoral officials.

The retired brigadier general had said publicly that he preferred to seek dialogue with the protesters. Porras had called for the immediate removal of roadblocks, with force if necessary. Hours before Barrientos resigned, she had called for him to be fired for not following a court order to clear them.

The stunning turn of events for a former cabinet minister comes just days before Arévalo is scheduled to be sworn in as Guatemala’s next president.

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Porras’ office has a number of open investigations against Arévalo and his party that outside observers have criticized as politically motivated.

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