President Juan Manuel Santos’ Unity party asked for help Wednesday in keeping candidates with a criminal past out of its political races as Colombia prepares for nation-wide local elections later this year.
Juan Lozeno, the Unity party chairman, called on members of the Colombian intelligence agencies to actively inform him if any prospective Unity party candidates has links to criminal groups or activities.
“If any state officials know of candidates from groups outside the law, please do tell us,” said Lorenzo.
Links between politicians and criminal groups have occupied center stage on the Colombian national scene since 2006, when the first members of Congress were detained for links to paramilitary organization AUC.
The detainment launched the parapolitics scandal, during which dozens of local, departmental and national politicians were jailed for their ties to illegal armed groups, mainly the AUC.