Viewing cable 04PANAMA298
Title: PANAMA ELECTION COUNTDOWN #1: 12 WEEKS TO GO

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04PANAMA2982004-02-09 17:51:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Panama
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PANAMA 000298 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN/BRIGHAM 
 
 
E.O. 12958:N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PM POL SPECIALIST
SUBJECT: PANAMA ELECTION COUNTDOWN #1:  12 WEEKS TO GO 
 
Time is up 
---------- 
¶1. (U) Monday, February 2, marked the deadline for 
political parties to register candidacies for presidential, 
mayoral, legislative and local representative seats.  All 
parties complied with the deadline and despite rumors over 
the weekend that one would withdraw from the race; all four 
presidential candidates submitted their nominations.  The 
Electoral Tribunal will soon publish a final, official list 
of all 12,278 candidates that will run for 1,754 elected 
positions. 
 
 
Partido Liberal Autentico out 
----------------------------- 
¶2. (SBU) Electoral Tribunal President Eduardo Valdes 
officially announced that the hastily created Partido 
Liberal Autentico (PLA) will not be permitted to 
participate in the 2004 General Elections.  As requested by 
Electoral Prosecutor Gerardo Solis, electoral magistrates 
will hold hearings to discuss alleged fraudulent membership 
registrations in the party. The PLA had already publicly 
endorsed PRD/PP presidential candidate Martin Torrijos. 
Torrijos was looking forward to PLA's official electoral 
recognition to A) form a 3-party coalition as the 
Arnulfistas have done; B) have Martin Torrijos' name appear 
a third time in the presidential ballot; C) receive $1 
million more on campaign subsidies; D) have more candidates 
campaigning for Torrijos at the local level. 
 
 
First national debate 
--------------------- 
¶3. (U) Following the closing time for official nominations, 
the largest local TV chain, MEDCOM (channels 4 & 13) held 
the first presidential debate (septel).  Despite mixed 
feelings among the population about format and questions, 
the national consensus was that having such a debate was 
positive.  At least two more debates are scheduled for 
March and April on other TV stations (channels 2 and 21). 
 
 
Election results: the sooner the better 
--------------------------------------- 
¶4. (U) The President of the National Counting Board, Fausto 
Fernandez, announced that official results of the May 2 
elections will be known around 11:00 p.m. that same day. 
Voting centers close at 4:00 p.m. and counting starts 
immediately after.  Tally sheets will then be sent by 
electoral representatives to district counting boards. 
However, unofficial results for Panama City will be known 
by 7:00 p.m. since those counting boards are located 
nearby. 
 
 
Candidate Torrijos meets former Colombian Presidents 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
¶5. (U) PRD/PP presidential candidate Martin Torrijos in 
Bogota February 4 paid a courtesy call to former Colombian 
Presidents Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, Julio Turbay Ayala, and 
Ernesto Samper.  Reportedly, they discussed regional 
topics, including Panama-Colombia border issues.  Torrijos 
was accompanied by his first vice presidential candidate 
Samuel Lewis Navarro and his advisor, former Foreign 
Minister and Ambassador to Colombia Jorge Eduardo Ritter. 
The trip reflected long-standing ties between the PRD and 
Colombia's Liberal Party. 
 
 
Everything under control, so far 
-------------------------------- 
 
 
¶6. (SBU) Electoral Tribunal Magistrate Dennis Allen 
reported to Pol FSN that "things are going smoothly" in the 
electoral process so far.  According to Allen, an Electoral 
Tribunal employee by mistake deleted an electronic 
nomination submitted by Partido Popular (PP).  PP's 
President Ruben Arosemena publicly complained about it, but 
the Electoral Tribunal has already informed him that the 
candidacy has been accepted. 
 
 
Campaigning comes first 
----------------------- 
¶7. (SBU) A professional legislative staffer complained to 
Embassy about "how boring work is these days."  Though the 
plenum at the Legislative Assembly is in recess, committees 
should have been meeting to discuss pending issues. 
According to this staffer, Legislative President "Jacobo 
Salas makes constant calls for committees to meet, but he 
is not successful.  Not even those who are not campaigning 
are around.  We expect a very quite session after March 1 
as well," she ended. (Note:  The Legislative Assembly 
reconvenes officially on March 1, 2004). 
 
 
Can't get their act together 
---------------------------- 
¶8. (SBU) An Arnulfista source involved in the Arnulfista 
presidential campaign privately shared with Embassy that 
"there is lack of communication and certainly little 
organization within Aleman's campaign.  Competing with 
public disappointment with the GOP is a difficult task and 
we need as much coordination as possible."  The source 
claimed that a new campaign strategy is to distance 
themselves from President Moscoso "who knows it already." 
The source cited Aleman's promise to abolish the 
transparency law regulations (passed by Moscoso) as a 
start.  Embassy asked whether that stance would compromise 
Moscoso's support for the candidacy, the source said that 
"attacks will not be personal, but against things that the 
GOP has ignored doing."  On party renovation, he said that 
after the elections a movement will promote current 
legislator Jose Blandon, Jr. to become the Arnulfista Party 
president in 2006, replacing Mireya Moscoso. 
 
 
 
 
WATT