The Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez has asked a government commission to investigate President Juan Manuel Santos for wrongfully using his position to gain political support for his reelection campaign, local media reported on Monday.
Ordoñez has asked the Accusation Commission of the House of Representatives, made up of 15 House of Representative members, to investigate Santos for allegedly capitalizing on recent meetings with mayors and governors by offering them budget allocations and government positions in exchange for support, Caracol Radio reported.
The Inspector General also opened a preliminary investigation against several senators for what he claims is illegal campaigning for the incumbent president.
According to Ordoñez, the Commission needs “To investigate the alleged irregular budget management and use of the official list of entities,” adding that Santos utilized these with the goal of “favouring his presidential campaign.”
The allegations by the Inspector General come just three weeks before the Colombian presidential elections set to take place on May 25.
Reasons for investigation
According to El Tiempo newspaper, the Inspector General called for the investigation of Santos primarily based on three reasons.
Ordoñez alleges that directly — or through — government officials, Santos has been “using his status as president to meet with local and state authorities in order to capitalize on them and secure support for his campaign in exchange for budget allocations for regional development.”
He also pointed to “alleged malpractice regarding the budget irregularities and use of official payroll by decentralized entities in order to promote his [Santos’] reelection campaign,” and the alleged influence over “various appointments made during 2010 and 2011 for national and decentralized institutions.”
In April, the Inspector General’s Office commented that the questionable buying of political support by distribution of government jobs and contracts — reportedly rife during March’s congressional elections — was legal.
Senators and Mayors to be investigated
The Inspector General’s Public Ministry also opened preliminary investigations against members of the Colombian Congress for allegedly “influencing” the budget and official payroll of the national government “in support of the reelection campaign of Juan Manuel Santos,” El Tiempo reported.
A preliminary investigation has been opened against the governor of Arauca, Jose Facundo Castilla, for alleged “undue interference in politics.” According to the Inspector General he did that “in order to gain commitments to favor political campaigns for the Congress and Presidency.”
Additionally, the Public Ministry opened preliminary investigations against mayors of seven different cities, that allegedly had been engaging in electoral political meetings with members of the presidential campaign, especially Augusto Posada, who was the campaign manager of Santos.