The majority of presidential candidates for the upcoming May general elections in Panama accepted on Tuesday a challenge promoted by the German NGO Transparency International (TI), which seeks to strengthen the fight against corruption and promote the accountability.
The challenge invites the six candidates to include measures in their electoral programs in five areas that, in the opinion of the international organization, are "unpostponable": anti-corruption laws; transparency and accountability; public contracts; justice; and access to information of open governments.
"Corruption allows a few to steal resources that belong to everyone and that could be used to provide health, education, housing, security and improve the life of every Panamanian", said the Foundation for the Development of Citizen Liberty, the association that represents the German NGO in Panama.
"It is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), to which Panama has committed", it added in a statement.
Among the signing candidates are José Isabel Blandón, of the official Partido Panameñista (PPA); Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo, of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD); and Rómulo Roux, of Cambio Democrático (CD).
It was also signed by the three independent pre-candidates: the former general prosecutor Ana Matilde Gómez, the ex-deputy Marco Ameglio and the lawyer Ricardo Lombana, who are the ones who collected the largest number of signatures among the citizens and whose final candidacy will be formalized in the next after resolving several claims of the other candidates without a party.
However, the candidate of the leftist Frente Amplio por la Democracia (FAD), Saúl Méndez, didn’t adhere to the commitment.
On May 5, 2019, Panama will hold general elections and renew all positions of popular election, including those of president and vice president, deputies of the National Assembly, deputies of the Central American Parliament (Parlacen), mayors, councilors and corregimiento representatives.
The presidential elections of 2014 were won against all odds by the ruling Partido Panameñista (PPA), while the two political forces with more deputies in the Panamanian Parliament, with 71 seats, are the PRD (26) and the CD (24).
The acceptance of the challenge by the presidential candidates coincides with the global launch by TI of the Perception of Corruption Index 2018, in which Uruguay and Chile are perceived as the least corrupt in Latin America, compared to Venezuela and Nicaragua, which they are in the antipodes.
Panama obtained 37 points out of a maximum of 100, a score similar to the 2017 index, but lower than the 38 and 39 units obtained in 2016 and 2015, respectively.