Seven members of the opposition Cambio Democrático party (CD) have presented their presidential candidature for the 2019 general elections, including the former director of the State Savings Bank of Panama (CA) Ricardo Francolini, arrested for alleged money laundering.
The National Elections Commission (CNE) of CD announced that it received the official nomination of the former director of the CA through procedures carried out by his wife, Iraida García de Francolini, on his behalf.
Francolini has been detained preventively since last week at the facilities of the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ), after the prosecution appealed a release bail, set at 100,000 dollars, which was granted by a court.
"From a small space in the DIJ, which serves as a cell and where I have been kidnapped for more than eight days, I do not lose faith and hope that God will again allow us to see the light of day, for my walk towards the presidential candidacy for CD," said Francolini on his Twitter account.
The presidential candidate also thanked his wife "for her support and the management of registering me," and stressed that "today the road begins, that neither the government nor its dark agenda can intervene. We are going full steam ahead to the primaries."
Ricardo Francolini is accused of alleged money laundering through bank accounts in the defunct stock exchange Financial Pacific (FP).
Francolini, president of the television network Next TV, owned by the Panamanian former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), was temporarily detained on May 23 after making an inquiry before the 7th Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office in this case.
The Prosecutor's Office also investigates Francolini and 20 other people for the concession in 2012 of a millionaire loan approved by the then-CA management to build a convention center in the capital, on the well-known Calzada de Amador.
In addition to this case, Francolini, Martinelli's former chancellor, is being investigated for alleged money laundering because of the bribery scandal paid in Panama by the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.
During the second day of the application period, the CD's CNE received on Tuesday the official nomination of Rómulo Roux, who is the president of this political group since January, and later Ignacio Montalvo did the same.
CD's CNE also received the official nominations of Rodrigo Sarasqueta; José Raúl Mulino, former Minister of Security of Martinelli; Luis Felipe Glaize Ruiz; and Rodrigo Farrugia.
Thus, according to the CNE, "there are 7 CD members who, until now, seek to compete for the party's presidential candidacy and lead the CD electoral bid for the May 2019 race."
Cambio Democrático - founded on May 20, 1998 by Martinelli and who presided over it until last January - will hold its primaries on August 12 to elect its presidential candidate.
In addition to the primaries of next August 12, the CD will make others on September 30 to choose the rest of its candidates for the general elections of May 2019.
On May 5, 2019, Panama will hold general elections and renew all positions of popular election, including those of the president and vice president.
There will also be 71 deputies from the National Assembly (AN), 20 deputies from the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), 81 mayors, 679 township representatives and 9 councilors.