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Colombia lives with electoral suspicions 70 days before the presidential elections

This content was published on Mar 20 2022 – 16:03

Jaime Ortega Carrascal

Bogotá, March 20 (EFE). – A problem Colombia did not appear with the legislative elections of March 13: doubts about the transparency of its electoral system after the fiasco in which the vote-counting of the Senate and the House of Representatives took place, only 70 days before the crucial presidential election.

The first protest came from the right-wing historical coalition, which denounced the “fraudulent” that in some 29,000 tables not a single vote appeared, a situation which is clearly impossible not only because they are equal to 25% of the total but because that power is. It was the most voted last Sunday.

That complaint, and similar ones from other parties, question the impartiality of the National Registry, the entity that organizes the elections, which still a week later does not explain what happened and attribute it to “mistakes” of various kinds while political analysts agree in noting that it is impossible to talk about ” fraud”.

So far, the National Registrar, Alexandre Vega, has not given convincing answers about what happened, adding to concern about the correctness of the electoral organization only when the country is on the verge of a presidential election that could change its political course.

On May 29, Colombians will go back to the polls to elect a president and they will do so again on June 19 should a second round be needed, elections in which polls award voting intent to the ex-combatant, former Bogotá mayor and Senator Gustavo Petro, leader of the historic charter.

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The left regains the votes

The post-election scrutiny added nearly 400,000 votes to the historic charter in the Senate, which gives it three more seats, for a total of 19, but opened the door to demands from parties that reduced their votes, such as the Uribesta Democratic Center, which yesterday requested a recount. Suspicions of the possibility of changing the ballot papers by the jury were dismissed.

“Under these circumstances, no candidate should be declared elected until a complete and public recount of the vote has been conducted separately, with a review of the ballots or amendments to the ballot papers and in the consolidation forms,” the Democratic Center asked in a statement, citing seven election failures.

Colombian democracy, with its flaws, has not seen such a situation for more than 50 years, when a government maneuver in the 1970 presidential election gave victory to conservative Michel Pastrana, before retired General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, who led the vote count. .

Years later, alleged fraud in that election gave rise to the April 19 (M-19) guerrilla movement, which takes its name from the date the election was held and of which Pietro was a member.

ghost cheat

Coincidentally or not, the mantle of skepticism about this election was first raised on February 3 by former President Andres Pastrana, son of Michel Pastrana, in connection with Petro’s visit to Madrid where he spoke, among others, with members of the Spanish multinational Indra, which Provides a platform for auditing.

“The reasons for Petro’s suspicious meeting today in Madrid with President Indra, contractor and software provider to the Registrar’s Office and the National Electoral Council, must be clarified for the country before the elections,” Pastrana wrote at the time.

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Indra has repeatedly ensured “the security of the electoral process”, but Pastrana insists it is “a completely unnatural thing” to leave Petro and the recorder “from day to day with half a million votes saved”.

Even more surprisingly, Pastrana’s initial complaint was picked up by Vice President and Chancellor Marta Lucia Ramirez, who in a letter to Vega expressed concern about the alleged lack of safeguards in overseas voting, a process that relies on two official institutions: the Registrar’s Office and the State Department that manages it.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the process, President Ivan Duque called for a meeting of the electoral guarantees schedule next Tuesday, of which the Registrar’s Office and the National Electoral Council are a part, in addition to the control of the government and the participating political parties and movements. Bodies and election observers.

Whatever the outcome of that meeting, it will be very difficult, after all that has happened, for the losers not to challenge the results of the presidential election with allegations of fraud, with all that that means in a volatile country like Colombia. . EFE

joc / jga / yes

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