On the morning of Friday, October 27, a controversy erupted over the alleged invitation extended to the dissident group of the FARC, known as the Central High Command of the FARC (EMC), to participate in the opening ceremony of the elections on Sunday in Cauca.
The EMC has been engaged in peace talks with the government for several weeks. However, a statement in which the delegations of the State and the EMC announced that the illegal armed group would be present at the installation of the electoral day in the municipality of Argelia, in the department of Cauca, has led to a morning of denials and clarifications.
“The peace dialogue table will accompany the population, the national, territorial, and municipal authorities, the electoral authorities, and the public ministry during the electoral process in the district of El Plateado, municipality of Argelia, Cauca,” says the EMC statement, signed by the delegate of this illegal organization at the peace dialogue table and by Camilo González Posso, who signs as the coordinator of the government delegation.
The text refers to an invitation from “electoral authorities.” It does not mention the government, which quickly denied any connection with the incident.
Ministers deny the invitation
The Minister of the Interior, Luis Fernando Velasco, has stated that the government has nothing to do with the alleged invitation. In addition, Velasco has asked the National Electoral Council (CNE) to clarify the facts. Ivan Velásquez, Defense Minister, has gone further and expressed his disagreement with the alleged invitation to the guerrilla group.
A few minutes later, in a morning of misunderstandings and contradictions, Registrar Alexander Vega pointed out that “it is not true that the electoral body invited the illegal armed group Central High Command of the FARC” to the opening ceremony of the elections in Cauca.
“The electoral authority, together with the Cauca Government and the Mayor’s Office of Popayán, had scheduled the event in the company of the accredited International Electoral Observation Missions in the country, civil, military, and police authorities for the opening,” but not with the illegal armed group, clarifies the electoral entity.
Electoral authorities change the location
Finally, it is stated in the statement to the public that “the National Registrar of Civil Status and the President of the National Electoral Council will install these elections from another location in the national territory and not in the city of Popayan, as previously announced.”
Both the Registry and the CNE had planned the opening of the regional elections and the installation of the Unified Command Post (PMU) in the Cauca department. For this purpose, they had the participation of the Cauca Government, the Mayor’s Office of Popayán, the accredited International Electoral Observation Missions in the country, civil, military, and police authorities.
Traditionally, this protocol event is held in the capital, Bogotá. The goal of this change of location was to convey a message of institutionalism in a region heavily affected by the violence of various illegal armed groups operating there.