Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office has asked police forces to refrain from any behavior that might exert pressure on the electorate prior to the country’s June 15 elections, local news outlets have reported.
Maria Eugenia Carreño, the attorney in charge of electoral issues, sent a two page statement to the country’s police commanders requesting that they refrain from acts which could be interpreted as political participation at least 10 days before the election, El Espectador newspaper reported.
The Public Ministry has received a series of complaints in the last few days regarding alleged irregularities that appear to have occurred around the electoral process, prompting the Inspector General’s Office to issue its plea.
The statement was also addressed towards Colombia’s presidential candidates and their respective campaign staff, asking them to avoid refrain from influencing the vote in any way.
“We are calling on the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, as well as the directors, campaign chiefs, and spokesmen of the campaigns, to refrain from pressuring which seeks to achieve a certain electoral outcome,” the statement read.
“We discourage any circumstances that limit the fundamental right to vote and be voted for and consequently, which prohibits the free and spontaneous participation in the democratic process,” the Inspector General’s Office added.
Furthermore, the letter also asked that campaigns “refrain from proselytizing in favor or against the two candidates, and instead encourage that the principles of transparency and fairness are guaranteed throughout the electoral process.”
Asides from the presidential candidates and police commanders, the document was also sent to governors, district and municipal mayors, government ministers, and governors, after a series of complaints had allegedly been filed with the oversight body.
Colombia’s presidential elections will be held on June 15, and either Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, candidate of former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD) party, or incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos will be the next president of Colombia.
In the first round of elections on May 25, Zuluaga walked away with 29% of the vote while Santos who is seeking re-election gained nearly 25% of the vote.
The Inspector General’s plea is warranted, seeing as how both the Zuluaga and Santos campaigns were fraught with scandal in the weeks leading up to the election’s first round.
Just weeks before the election, Zuluaga’s campaign manager resigned over allegations of wiretapping, and just eight days ago, a video appeared of the candidate being informed on allegedly illegally obtained classified information related to ongoing peace talks between the government and the FARC rebel group.
Meanwhile, one of President Santos’ chief political strategists was forced to resign when a Colombian drug lord’s testimony before United States prosecutors was leaked to Colombian media.
According to media, drug lord “Comba” told the prosecutors that he and other top drug lords had paid spin doctor Juan Jose Rendon $12 million to promote a proposal to negotiate their surrender and jointly dismantle existing drug trafficking routes to prevent emerging groups from taking over.
It has become apparent that despite these scandals, the 40% of Colombians who voted still widely supported Zuluaga and Santos.