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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Panama’s High Court Approves Mulino’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court of Justice of Panama declared this Friday the presidential candidacy of the right-wing José Raúl Mulino, substitute for the disqualified former president Ricardo Martinelli and favorite to win Sunday’s election, as constitutional, announced the judicial body.

The Court “declares that it is not unconstitutional” the decision of the Electoral Tribunal that accepted Mulino’s nomination in place of Martinelli, said María Eugenia López, president of the judicial body, who spoke to journalists as the court had been in closed session since Tuesday.

Mulino, a 64-year-old lawyer, replaced Martinelli after he was disqualified following a confirmed conviction of nearly 11 years in prison for money laundering, and he took asylum in the Nicaraguan Embassy.

A private attorney then filed a challenge against the Electoral Tribunal for unconstitutionality, arguing that Mulino did not go through primary elections nor does he have a vice-presidential candidate, as required by law.

“What has motivated” the Court “in the historic moment in which we find ourselves is to defend our homeland and democracy, the institutions, social peace, the right to choose and be chosen, and political pluralism,” explained the magistrate.

The decision of the Supreme Court kept the country on tenterhooks this week in the final stretch of these elections, in which three out of the 4.4 million Panamanians are called to elect a president, in a single round by simple majority, 71 deputies, and local governments.

Mulino, former Minister of Security under Martinelli (2009-2014) and candidate of the party Realizando Metas (RM, initials of the former governor), has a 37.6% voting intention, according to the latest survey by Mercadeo Planificado for the newspaper La Prensa, published on Thursday.

He is followed by former social democrat president Martín Torrijos (2004-2009), with 16.4% in voting intentions, and the center-right lawyers Rómulo Roux, with 14.9%, and Ricardo Lombana, with 12.7%.

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