A congresswoman, a member of ex-President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center, is the first lawmaker to be suspended since the party’s first day in Congress in early August.
House Representative Johana Chaves’ March election was disputed on grounds she violated a 2011 law that bans politicians from simultaneously being a member of two political parties or movements.
Chaves was an active member of the controversial Citizens’ Option political party in the year before her election to congress as member of the right-wing Democratic Center, thus failing to complete the statutory minimum time-lapse between political party memberships.
Several media reported that the suspended lawmaker was registered as one of the executives when the PIN party, controversial because of its links to several jailed politicians, registered as Citizens’ Option.
La Vanguardia Liberal, a newspaper from the former representative’s state of Santander, claimed to have evidence that Chaves was a candidate in the primary elections for the Citizens’ Option congressional seat, a claim Chaves denies.
However, a State Council commission unanimously decided Chaves’ had indeed failed to comply with the requirements of the law, thus issuing a precautionary suspension and prohibiting her from exercising her capacities as a legislator until a higher court rules on the case.
Several senators and representatives are currently under investigation for alleged irregularities which occurred in the most recent congressional elections, which observers considered to be “the most corrupt” in recent history.
In Colombia’s 2010-2014 Congress, 29 lawmakers — or 10% of Congress — were removed from office due to corruption, links to armed groups, and other criminal activity.
Uribe’s party lost one of its presidential primary candidates last year when former Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos was arrested over alleged political deals with right-wing paramilitary group AUC when he was senator for the Conservative Party.