More than 2,200 candidates have been banned from the October elections for having criminal records, according to Interior Minister German Vargas Lleras.
Colombian media reported that the 131,190 background checks were conducted “in record time” since Vargas Lleras announced the beginning of the process to weed out candidates with criminal records on July 7.
One thousand candidates had their party endorsements revoked and another 1,223 candidates were found ineligible for endorsements. Vargas Lleras said he will ask the parties to publicise the candidates names to help ensure they stay out of the election.
The interior minister also expressed concerns about candidates without party affiliations who got on the ballots through signatures instead of an official endorsement. Because the political parties facilitated the removal process, these candidates may have slipped through the cracks.
“Not all is lost,” assured Vargas Lleras. He explained that the National Electoral Council can revoke the registration of any candidates with a criminal background.
Vargas Lleras denied the government is considering suspending the elections, although he said the president could do so. “The president is empowered to review whether it is appropriate to suspend elections which show evidence that a municipality is captured by illegal organizations,” said the minister.