Crisis in Santos’ U Party: 14 congressmen declare themselves independent

Fourteen members of President Juan Manuel Santos’ U Party separated itself from the party claiming irregularities in elections for a new board and protesting against discrimination inside the party.

The internal conflict follows controversial elections for the party’s new board of directors.

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At the ideological congress in Santa Marta in the north of Colombia two weeks ago, the U party members elected a new leadership, while doing all they could to leave the public opinion with an image of unity and cohesion.

At the event in the Caribbean city, Santos himself appealed to his congressmen to leave their mutual animosities behind and act collectively to guarantee efficient governance in the Congress.

However, the photo depicting the partisan crowd applauding Roy Barreras, Jose David Name and Berner Zambrano as new party coordinators seems not to tell the whole story about the party.

In a letter published yesterday, 14 of 37 Representatives to the House filed their complaints to U Party director Sergio Diaz-Granados about the mechanism of elections for the board of coordinators. What is more, all of the signed politicians announced they will not be recognizing the newly elected management.

Among the rebelling congressmen is Diaz-Granados’ own cousin.

The dissenting faction went as far as declaring itself as an independent, dissident bloc within the organization.

The group’s main grievance allegedly has to do with the appointment of Berner Zambrano as the speaker of the House. According to Semana magazine, Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo endorsed the candidacy of Hernan Penag6os, a former president of the House of Representatives and now one of the rebelling members of congress.

In the letter, the group argues that the elections didn’t comply with the party’s own rules, as the names of the dignitaries were not picked by consensus and the electoral quota introduced to guarantee unity in the party was ignored.

Following the complaint, the lawmakers declared that they “refuse to recognize the new administration, as [they] didn’t participate in the elections for it.”

Elsewhere in the letter the congressmen conveyed a kind of a warning to their party bosses.

“With all conviction, we hereby state that if the party doesn’t take decisions necessary to guarantee the unity inside the party, the bloc will continue to defend the interests of the government and the party in an independent manner, against those who fail to respect and help each other,” reads the message.

The U Party is Santos main supporting party in his governing coalition with other electoral giants like the Liberal Party and Radical Change party of vice-President German Vargas, an alleged contender in the 2018 elections.

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