Colombia’s Interior Minister is being investigated for illegally trying to gain support for coalition parties ahead of Sunday’s local elections.
The Inspector General’s Office opened a preliminary investigation after complaints were made against Juan Fernando Cristo for illegally intervening in the elections after he told Colombians to vote for coalition parties.
“On October 25, Colombians will be supporting the National Unity [coalition] candidates, supporting those who want peace in Colombia,” said Cristo at a public event held days before Sunday’s
According to W Radio, Cristo has been formally informed of the charges and is prepared to go to the Public Prosecutor’s office to be investigated to see whether his claims were in fact a violation of the law.
In response to the investigation, the Interior Minister said that he possibly “had a lapse” and criticized those who considered it to be an illegal attempt at garnering political support for the coalition parties supporting President Juan Manuel Santos, according to El Universal newspaper.
“If i had a lapse, I will simply rectify it. But to say that it is a political intervention, or a declaration that will change the course of the elections, well we all know that it is not like that,” said Cristo, adding that political intervention is when politicians use their power to pressure the electorate.
The four-page Inspector General document stating the illegality of such intervention says that “there is a rule in the democratic system that is the impartiality of those who exercise public office.”
The preliminary hearing will reportedly assess the circumstances in which the statement was made.
Cristo is the second top official to get into trouble for allegedly trying to illegally meddle in Sunday’s vote; Vice-President German Vargas reportedly organized meetings with candidates inside his vice-presidential office.