Colombia’s opposition candidate for the 2018 presidential election “postponed” his announced candidacy on Wednesday after being implicated in a major bribery scandal.
Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the candidate for the Democratic Center party, has been linked to the international Odebrecht bribery scandal through accusations his 2014 campaign received $1.6 million in contributions from the corrupt Brazilian engineering firm.
Former Colombian president and party leader Alvaro Uribe met with Zuluaga on Wednesday, after which Zuluaga announced his decision to temporarily withdraw his presidential candidacy.
“I led an honorable campaign; I am at the disposal of the authorities to account for all my actions, as I have always done in my public life. Today, above all political considerations, my priority is the tranquility and good name of my family,” said Zuluaga in a statement.
Comunicado a la opinión pública
El día de ayer solicité al expresidente Álvaro Uribe un encuentro personal que… https://t.co/3kJrYwNGWV
— Óscar Iván Zuluaga (@OIZuluaga) March 8, 2017
Uribe said he supported Zuluaga in his decision and, after thanking him for his support, Zuluaga reiterated that he will continue his work for the party.
The Democratic Center party now has two candidates remaining for its ticket at the 2018 Colombian presidential election; the former vice-presidential candidate, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, and Senator Ivan Duque.
Uribe reportedly also met with the senator and ex-communications minister Maria del Rosario Guerra to ask her to take Zuluaga’s place as a potential presidential candidate for the Democratic Center party.
Other people being touted as potential replacements are Senator Paloma Valencia and ex-Senator Juan Lozano.
The Odebrecht bribery scandal concerning the approximately $11 million in bribes has already led to the arrest of the former vice-minister of transport and allegations $1 million entered the successful 2014 presidential campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos.