Conservative Party presidential candidate Noemi Sanin invited her former candidacy rival Andres Felipe Arias to work on her campaign for the Colombian presidency, during a Conservative Party Congress in Bogota Wednesday evening.
“I invite him [Arias] to work in what unites us, for the benenfit of our nation, for the unity of our party and for the solutions that our people need,” Sanin said at the congress.
The presidential candidate also thanked the Conservative party presidential aspirants, who lost to her in the party primary, for accepting the primary’s results.
Arias did not attend the congress. The former agriculture minister has not backed Sanin in her presidential campaign, since he lost to her in the primaries, and the two have publically clashed.
Following his defeat in the primaries, Arias has criticized his party for “disciplina de perros,” insinuating that party members are disciplined like dogs.
Other Conservative candidates who lost out Sanin in the primaries, but attended the congress, called Arias a “sore loser.”
“I’m not here [at the congress], not because of ‘dog disipline’, but because of the disipline of men of honor. Men of honor keep their word, the word which all of us candidates freely committed to when promised to support whichever won the contest,” said Jose Galat.
Galat, who competed in the party primaries for the Conservative Party candidacy, was referring to an agreement signed by the Conservative pre-candidates, in which they promised to respect the results of the primary and support the winner.
“It is not right that there are pre-candidates who use the party when they have a chance of winning, but despise it when they have been defeated,” said Conservative pre-candidate Alvaro Leyva.
“You have every right to be a sore loser, but in it is wrong to try to harm [the campaign] of our official candidate,” Leyva said.
Leyva stressed that the conservative party “is not a party on the brink of collapse,” despite the fact that almost 100 Conservative party members, including Arias’ campaign manager, have abandonded Sanin’s bid for the presidency and publically announced they will support Partido de la U’s candidate Juan Manuel Santos.
Conservative Party Ethical Inspector Maria Correa responded to the party-switchers with a veiled threat, saying that being a member of one party and supporting another was illegal under recent changes in elections policy approved by congress.
The first round of Colombia’s presidential elections will be held on May 30. If no candidate wins 50% plus one of the vote outright, the two most voted for candidates will face off in a second round.