Days before vote, Santos calls emergency meeting over election fraud claims

Juan Manuel Santos (Image: President's Office)

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday agreed to investigate piling election fraud accusations a day after rejecting the fraud claims as “extreme left” inventions.

Santos said he would organize a top-level meeting with ministers, judicial authorities and the military on Wednesday to discuss the piling fraud allegations.

The meeting will take place just four days ahead of presidential elections after leftist candidate Gustavo Petro, a staunch anti-corruption crusader, called on his supporters to take to the streets when polls close on Sunday.

Fraud or a leftist conspiracy?

  • Colombia’s State Council confirmed earlier this year that the 2014 legislative elections were sabotaged by corrupt election officials and a security breach in the vote-counting software.
  • Electoral observers accused National Registrar Juan Carlos Galindo of failing to fix the security flaws that allowed the fraud and called on political parties to recruit electoral witnesses.
  • Think tank Paz y Reconciliacion published evidence indicating that fraudsters altered “between 10% and 20%” of the outcome of legislative elections in March.
  • Senator Armando Benedetti of Santos’ U Party said to have evidence that one in five electoral jurors in the Atlantico province did not appear in the social security database.
  • Colombia’s leading political news website La Silla Vacia reported that governors and mayors throughout Colombia were ordered to recruit voters to benefit candidate German Vargas.

“The software has algorithm alterations that don’t give a guarantee and could generate a massive fraud,” Petro said on Sunday, days after calling on his supporters to register as electoral witnesses and take to the streets on election day.

Colombia election day could spell trouble as candidate announces mass protests

One of Petro’s conservative rivals, former Vice-President German Vargas, took a swipe at the leftist, sarcastically urging him to ask Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for electoral software if he doesn’t trust Colombian institutions.

Yet, an independent investigation by leading think tank, Fundacion Paz y Reconciliacion (Pares), confirmed Petro’s claims, revealing how “irregularities” took place earlier this year in congressional elections.

“The results of the investigation indicated that there was electoral fraud that could have modified between 10% and 20% of the Congress,” said the NGO.

Fraud claims pile up 10 days before Colombia’s elections

Pares said they used exactly the same verification method as MIRA, an evangelical party that successfully demonstrated fraud in the 2014 legislative election vote.

Santos vowed everything was being done to keep the electoral process “transparent” and advised national registrar Juan Carlos Galindo to “open the doors as much as possible to all those who want to search” for any electoral irregularities.

Galindo continued to reject corruption claims on Monday, stating that “anyone who has evidence that there are preparations for fraud should denounce it,” stopping short of admitting to the real possibility of Sunday’s vote being manipulated.


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