Former president Alvaro Uribe said on Tuesday that Colombia’s incoming Congress to which he was elected on Sunday is “illegitimate,” claiming the election were marred by fraud.
“This Congress is illegitimate because of political bribery, false advertising [and] violence,” Uribe told Colombian radio station Blu Radio on Tuesday.
The leader of the new opposition party Democratic Center accused the incumbent U Party of President Juan Manuel Santos of electoral fraud and deceitful advertising, despite evidence proving that Uribe’s party also carried out some illegal practices.
Reported voter intimidation
Electoral observers were not able to corroborate Uribe’s claims as complaints were still coming in on Tuesday. MOE spokesman Fabian Hernandez told Colombia Reports that “we have never received this many complaints about election fraud” since the organization’s foundation in 2007.
Uribe claimed that many Colombian citizens were threatened into voting for the ruling party by the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, which is currently negotiating peace with President Juan Manuel Santos government in Havana and which was also rigorously targeted during Uribe’s administration.
However, reports of voter intimidation were mostly prominent in cities where the FARC is hardly active.
Over the past few days, members of the Democratic Center have also been decrying fraud in the unexpected turnaround of voting trends during the ballot count on Sunday, which saw the opposition party rapidly lose their lead in Senate to end the day with nearly 200,000 votes less than the U Party.
In an ongoing critique by the former head of state, Uribe also accused Santos’ government of winning votes by spreading “marmalade” — a Colombian reference to the practice of buying political support by handing out political favors or money.
“By using ‘marmalade’ […] you have revived a politics held in the clutches of the drug trade,” Uribe tweeted on Tuesday.
A fierce critic of his onetime ally and defense minister, Uribe stated that the U Party congressional bid used false advertising to fool voters into thinking that Uribe was still a member of his old party.
The Democratic Center was formed in 2013 after a rift between Uribe and Santos caused Uribe to split from the U Party, which was founded by Santos to back Uribe’s second presidential bid.
“We have studies showing that […] between 34 and 37% of voting intention was seized by the U [Party] through cheating,” Uribe said. “Can you imagine what would have happened if it had been us doing this?”
Uribe’s assertions may be considered hypocritical by some, as the opposition senator is currently being investigated himself for bribing congressmen in 2004 to pass the constitutional change needed for him to be re-elected for a second term in 2006.
It was also reported that supporters of the Democratic Center handed out cookies with political propaganda and the party logo on the packaging, despite publicity being illegal on election day.
In 2013, a candidate for Senate of the Democratic Center used the “spreading marmalade” expression to accuse President Santos of “buttering up” congressmen to back him in his re-election bid in May 2014.
Since then, Santos’ government has been surrounded by allegations that it has been using bribery to rake in support from all sides, though the practice has existed in Colombia’s political workings from local to state levels since long before Santos gained power.
- Por trampas del Gobierno “el Congreso es ilegítimo”: electo senador Álvaro Uribe (Blu Radio)
- El nuevo Congreso es ilegítimo: Uribe (El Espectador)
- Mermelada se le untó a los congresistas: uribismo (El Colombian0)
- Alvaro Uribe Calls Colombia Poll ‘Illegitimate’ Two Days After Being Elected to the Senate (NTN24)
- Official Results Congressional Elections 2014 (National Civil Registry)