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Sunday, August 25 2019 @ 10:43 pm EDT

Two Constitutional Challenges Filed In The Supreme Court Against First Lady's VP Nomination

PoliticsTwo constitutional challenges were filed yesterday against the nomination of the first lady, Marta Martinelli, the wife of the current president, as the Vice Presidential candidate of the ruling alliance between the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (MOLIRENA) political party and Democratic Change (CD).

The first action was filed with the Supreme Court of by Raul Figueroa , who is an architect and a former member of the now defunct Christian Democratic Party.

In his complaint Figueroa asks the Supreme Court to review the nomination and to "declare unconstitutional, on the merits" the resolution issued by the National Office of Electoral Organization of the Electoral Tribunal, which approved the candidacy of Marta de Martinelli - who was nominated by MOLIRENA - as the running mate of Jose Domingo Arias.

The suit is based on Article 193 of the Constitution, paragraph five. The rule states: "One cannot be elected as Vice President of the Republic (...) relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity or second degree of affinity to the president of the Republic, for the period following that in which the President of the Republic has exercised the office."

Figueroa believes the first lady is unable to aspire to the vice presidency during the five-year period between 2014 and 2019.

According to the constitutional provision, Figueroa maintains, there exists a group of people who, because of their condition as being close family members of the sitting president, cannot be elected to the Vice Presidency.

So therefore "he will be impeded from being able to continue to exercise power through the family member who, at the presidency of the Republic, is ending his term."

The complaint says that although the Family Code does not establish relationship between spouses, ie the president and first lady, "they are family and she is the closest kin to the President."

He argues is the complaint that the nomination of Ricardo Martinelli's spouse as the Vice Presidential candidate has political undertones. Specifically, there is the intention of continuing Martinelli in power.

Figueroa says the Constitution establishes a fixed period that the President will be in office. "The time for which he is elected, he cannot adjust to his desire or whim. This time is unchanged," he said.

The existence of this unchangeable time period allows for "the alternation ( ... ) and so that this effect is effective it has been established that (the members) of the President's family group are not eligible to be chosen for such an important office (as the presidency) or the or vice president."


Yesterday afternoon a second lawsuit on the same legal context driven Figueroa was presented, but in reference to the vice presidential candidacy of the first lady, Marta Martinelli, of the Democratic Change Party (CD).

The plaintiff was the former Minister of Finance during the administration of Guillermo Endara (1989-1994) founder of the party and former member MOLIRENA, Mario Galindo.

Yesterday the first case filed against the decision issued by the National Electoral Organization was assigned to judge Oydén Ortega Durán.

If the case is admitted by the judge rapporteur, it will be sent to the office of the Attorned General and the Prosecutor for Administration, so they can issue their opinions.

Then he will write a draft ruling to be circulated among the other eight judges of the Full Supreme Court. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Martinelli appointed the Attorney General and a majority of the sitting judges of the Supreme Court. They have already played this out, and of course they did their legal and constitutional homework even before they decided to nominate the First Lady as Jose Domingo Arias' running mate. It's legal and constitutional. Martinelli found a loophole and now he's exploiting it. If he didn't control the Attorney General's office and the Supreme Court, they would decide against him and throw out the nomination. However he did appoint them (and, this is Panama...) so they will decide in his favor and allow her to remain on the ticket.

The PRD, Panameñistas, Figueroa, and Mario Galindo all know this as well. They fired off their complaints yesterday - with just one month before the election - because they know it will take all of the time that's left for the cases to make their way through the system. This issue will now be in the news until the election, so they are trying to score as many political points against Martinelli and the CD as possible, even though they already know they have no chance of actually winning the case. It's about headlines and votes at this point...

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