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Violence and Fraud Put Colombian Elections at Risk

Bogotá, October 7 (teleSUR-RHC)-- Political developments are heating up in Colombia as the country prepares for another election, with at least seven candidates killed and 30 municipalities uncovering cases of electoral fraud.

Seven politicians have been killed since February this year, with the most recent murder victim Giraldo Ojeda, a conservative leader and mayor of San Jose de Alban who was killed Sept. 30.

According to Colombian El Tiempo daily, 157 other candidates have also reportedly received threats, just days ahead of the Oct. 25 legislative elections.       

Most of the threats have been made in the states of Valle del Cauca, Narino and Antioquia, considered some of the most dangerous regions of the country.

“The main factors in the threats in this election year are the criminal gangs and drug traffickers ... who are funding or supporting strong candidates,” reported El Tiempo.

The number of threats on politicians' lives is lower than other election years, however. In Colombia's 2011 regional elections, 41 politicians were killed; in the 2007 elections, 21 candidates were killed; and 2003 saw 29 candidates killed, reported El Tiempo.

Another issue plaguing this years' elections is electoral fraud. Last month the National Electoral Council reported at least 30 municipalities in the state of Valle del Cauca were guilty of electoral fraud. Voters are brought from other Colombian regions to vote.

This strategy is used to increase the number of potential voters in a region, who are usually paid to vote for a particular candidate. It is also considered electoral fraud and is an offense under the Colombian Penal code.

As a result, almost 65,000 national identity cards have been canceled this year, suspected of being evidence of electoralfraud

Colombians will go to the polls Oct. 25 to vote for their local representative in Congress.
Edited by Ivan Martínez
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