“Dark interests of local politicians who want to seize power in the city” could be behind the recent scandals that forced two candidates to withdraw from the Cali mayor’s race, newspaper El Tiempo reported Tuesday.
On Monday, President Juan Manuel Santos announced that both Rodrigo Guerrero and Susana Correa, whose electoral petitions were found to have thousands of fraudulent signatures, told him they had been asked for bribes to resolve their issues with the Electoral Registry.
Santos said Guerrero was asked for more than $100,000 to “solve his problem with the Registry about the signatures” and days later he was asked for the same amount to “win the election.”
El Tiempo claims Guerrero directly blamed the director of the Electoral Registry, Hollman Ibañez, who signed the document removing him from the ballot.
According to newspaper, Ibañez is close friends with the Cali government secretary, Eliana Salamanca, who is the protégé of ex-senator Juan Carlos Martinez – who was convicted on “parapolitics” charges.
Two weeks ago Martinez received permission to temporarily leave prison in order to travel to Cali to support his favored candidates.
Initially, Registrar Carlos Ariel Sanchez rejected Guerrero and Correa’s accusations, claiming they were removed from the ballots following a “rigorous statistical process of law.” However, after Santos’ intervention, he said they would launch an investigation.
Guerrero told El Tiempo he would continue campaigning and demand a review of the signatures on his petition while Correa said she has dropped out of the race to get to the bottom of the irregularities in the Registry.