Former defense minister and possible presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos warned politicians within his Partido de la U against affiliation with criminal or paramilitary factions.
In a move to dissipate anxieties over candidates’ paramilitary connections raised by recent media reports, the Party of the U leader announced the party’s congressional candidates will sign a contract affirming that they do not belong to any illegally armed groups.
Santos, known for his hardline policies and military successes against the FARC, also announced the formation of a high-level commission to investigate candidates on the party’s list.
According to a report by newspaper El Espectador, seven of the party’s candidates for Congress are suspiciously close to paramilitary or criminal groups.
Congress last year approved a reform bill that prohibits parties from replacing congressmen who are suspended because of criminal investigations against them. This “empty-seat” law follows the investigations into dozens of (former) congressmen suspected of aligning with right-wing paramilitary groups for political gain.