San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Unity Party Prepares For 2006 Election

MEMBERS of the Social ChristianUnity Party (PUSC) are taking their seatsand setting the rules to determine howthey will participate in the country’sfuture leadership.During their general assembly lastweekend, party members determined theirpresidential candidate will not have theright to handpick any legislators for theparty, which has in the past been thenorm.Ricardo Toledo, who recently declaredhimself a pre-candidate for the presidency,said he is satisfied with the decision,as is pre-candidate Guillermo Vargas,according to the daily La Nación.With Toledo focusing on his presidentialcampaign, Unity legislator GerardoGonzález is attempting to get the votes tomaintain his current position as presidentof the Legislative Assembly for the finalyear of the assembly’s four-year term.Toledo was previously the Unity choicefor assembly president.Meanwhile Unity legislator FedericoVargas, assembly party head, has officiallyentered himself in the contest forthe next ombudsman. The position, currentlyheld by José Manuel Echandi,opens up June 5. Vargas is competingagainst Echandi and 20 others for thepost.While some party members vie forleadership positions, the Unity EthicsTribunal suspended legislator MarioCalderón from the party for four years.A scandal over Calderón’s handling ofroad repair funds prompted the March 31ruling, which converts Calderón into anindependent legislator, according to LaNación.Residents of Alajuela, the cantonnorthwest of San José and the areaCalderón partially represents, allegedlygave the legislator ¢15 million ($32,600)to invest in road repair. Other communitiesclaim to have given Calderón funds aswell. While Calderón returned ¢2.5 millionto one community, he has denied anywrongdoing (TT, Feb. 11).Former Unity Party legislatorBelisario Solano, who was also accusedof accepting thousands of dollars fromresidents for road repairs that were latermade with public funds, has said he willresign as president of the state-runNational Radio and Television System(SINART) to join Toledo’s presidentialcampaign, La Nación reported.

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