Colombia’s Interior and Justice Minister German Vargas Lleras has revealed a map identifying areas of high risk for political interference from illegal armed groups in the months leading up to the October elections, reported CMI.com.
The municipalities listed by the minister are identified as having possible interference by illegal armed groups or have experienced threats against political candidates.
According to the official, there are 62 municipalities with extraordinary risk levels for interference, 58 municipalities with a high level of risk, while 122 municipalities have a mid-level risk and 296 have a low level of risk. Colombia has a total of 1,102 municipalities.
Military brigade leaders will meet with candidates and local officials to discuss safety measures in municipalities of 12 departments that show elevated risk levels, including Antioquia, Cauca and Norte de Santander.
“We have warned the parties that they should take extraordinary measures and with them they are sharing the map of risk. The principal idea is to prevent the capture of the candidates by illegal actors in these municipalities,” said Vargas Lleras.
Risks from illegal armed groups are not the only challenges facing the legitimacy of the national elections in October. Andres Ceballos, the International Coordinator for the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), told Colombia Reports that local elections could also be affected by the harsh rainy season.
“Unfortunately many citizens are not aware of the services the state must provide them and the emergency aid given may be directly or indirectly used as a means to assure allegiance on election day,” said Ceballos.
According to the organization’s National Survey on Voter Perception 2010, 11.1% of those polled across the nation know someone who has received government subsidies to vote for a particular candidate.
Thirteen percent of people from the Caribbean coast (Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta) have voted for a candidate in exchange for money, food or other material goods, while 51.6% said they knew someone who had.
President Juan Manuel Santos and Comptroller General Sandra Morelli announced in January that the state would monitor funds allocated to aid flood victims “through a magnifying glass,” amid fears of local corruption.
Colombians will head to the polls October 30 to elect governors, departmental representatives, local mayors and members of municipal councils.
MOE will deploy over three thousand volunteer civic observers to cities and towns around Colombia to report any irregularities in the electoral process.